noun, often attributive
\ ˈfī(-ə)r How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a(1) : the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame, and heat
(2) : one of the four elements of the alchemists air, water, fire, and earth
b(1) : burning passion : ardor young lovers with their hearts full of fire
(2) : liveliness of imagination : inspiration the force and fire of his oratory
2a : fuel in a state of combustion (as on a hearth) warmed his hands at the crackling fire
b British : a small gas or electric space heater
3a : a destructive burning (as of a building) The shack was destroyed by a fire.
b(1) : death or torture by fire He confessed under threat of the fire.
(2) : severe trial or ordeal He had proved himself in the fire of battle.
4 : brilliancy, luminosity the fire of a gem
5a : the firing of weapons (such as firearms, artillery, or missiles) The troops were ordered to cease fire. [=stop shooting] They opened fire on [=began shooting at] the enemy. also : the bullets, shells, etc., that are discharged The soldiers endured heavy fire. — see also friendly fire — compare counterfire
b : intense verbal attack or criticism His remarks have provoked heavy fire from his political opponents.
c : a rapidly delivered series (as of remarks)
on fire
1 : being consumed by fire : aflame The house was on fire.
2 : eager, burning He was on fire with enthusiasm.
under fire
1 : exposed to fire from an enemy's weapons The soldier showed courage under fire.
2 : under attack The company has come under fire for its discriminatory hiring policies.


fired; firing

Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to set on fire : kindle also : ignite fire a rocket engine
b(1) : to give life or spirit to : inspire the description fired his imagination
(2) : to fill with passion or enthusiasm often used with up
c : to light up as if by fire
d : to cause to start operating usually used with up fired up the engine
2a : to drive out or away by or as if by fire
b : to dismiss from a position
3a(1) : to cause to explode : detonate
(2) : to propel from or as if from a gun : discharge, launch fire a rocket
(3) : shoot sense 1b fire a gun
(4) : to score (a number) in a game or contest
b : to throw with speed or force fired the ball to first base fire a left jab
c : to utter with force and rapidity
4 : to apply fire or fuel to: such as
a : to process by applying heat fire pottery
b : to feed or serve the fire of fire a boiler

intransitive verb

1a : to take fire : kindle, ignite
b : to begin operation : start the engine fired
c : to operate especially as the result of the application of an electrical impulse the spark plug fires
2a : to become irritated or angry often used with up
b : to become filled with excitement or enthusiasm
3a : to discharge a firearm fire at close range
b : to emit or let fly an object
4 : to tend a fire
5 : to transmit a nerve impulse the rate at which a neuron fires

Definition of FIRE (Entry 3 of 4)

finance, insurance, and real estate


biographical name
\ ˈfī(-ə)r How to pronounce Fire (audio) \

Definition of Fire (Entry 4 of 4)

Andrew Zachary 1959–     American geneticist

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Other Words from fire


fireless \ ˈfī(-​ə)r-​ləs How to pronounce fireless (audio) \ adjective


fireable \ ˈfī(-​ə)r-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce fireable (audio) , ˈfī-​rə-​ \ adjective
firer noun

Synonyms for fire

Synonyms: Noun

conflagration, holocaust, inferno

Synonyms: Verb

blast, discharge, loose, shoot, squeeze off

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Examples of fire in a Sentence


Stay away from the fire. The shack was destroyed by a fire. Two people died in that terrible fire. How did the fire start? We warmed our hands over the fire. She built a fire in the fireplace. The fire went out and he had to light it again.


She fired the arrow at the target. He fired several shots at the police. He fired at the police. The gun failed to fire. The soldiers fired on the enemy. The shortstop fired the ball to first base. The angry mob fired rocks at him. The boxer fired a left jab at his opponent's chin. The story fired his imagination. She had to fire several workers.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Wildfires are an annual occurrence in the area, with more than 130 fires currently burning across the neighboring eastern states of Queensland and New South Wales. Julie Zaugg, CNN, "Wildfires sweep Australia as police investigate," 10 Sep. 2019 The worst fires in recent decades killed 173 people and razed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria state toward the end of summer in 2009. Fox News, "Australia wildfires raging like ‘flamethrower’ devour homes, at least 400 evacuated," 10 Sep. 2019 But barely nine months into his term, Bolsonaro has angered much of the rest of the world for his handling of fierce fires cutting through vast Amazon rainforests. Tracy Wilkinsonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Argentina election raises doubts about Trump’s bet on right-wing leaders," 10 Sep. 2019 The move was later reversed, with the fire and police departments chaplains now delivering the invocations. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Some push for Scottsdale to end prayer at council meetings amid legal showdown with Satanists," 10 Sep. 2019 Sweltering and dry conditions triggered forest fires all the way up to the Arctic circle, with the flames burning through some 25,000 hectares of land. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Climate Change Has Shrunk Sweden’s Highest Peak," 10 Sep. 2019 In the title role, Yael Reich captures Eva’s strength and determination with brassy vocals and fire in her eyes. Matthew J. Palm,, "Dancing electrifies by-the-book ‘Evita’ | Review," 10 Sep. 2019 Duluth police, fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the incident. Brady Slater, Twin Cities, "Members devastated as Duluth synagogue burns to the ground," 9 Sep. 2019 Having taken a break from management, the Frenchman will certainly come back with some added fire in his belly and the combination of the talented squad and his brilliant management would make Germany a force to be reckoned with again., "Joachim Low: 4 Candidates to Replace the World Cup Winning Coach," 8 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Last year’s parliamentary elections were so chaotic that Ghani fired the entire Independent Electoral Commission. Washington Post, "Trump’s US-Taliban move pushes Afghans toward fragile vote," 11 Sep. 2019 The car started moving again, and the gunman kept firing in the 7300 block of South Wolcott Avenue. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "3 cops lauded for actions after woman was hit in the head by a stray bullet that came through her front window. Video captured gunman randomly shooting in West Englewood.," 11 Sep. 2019 Zhang, who acted as her own attorney after firing her public defenders in June, showed no reaction when the verdict was read., "Chinese businesswoman convicted in Mar-a-Lago trespass case," 11 Sep. 2019 Hingham 245, Whitman-Hanson 265 — Luke McDonald fired a 2-over-par 38 for the Harbormen (3-0) at South Shore Country Club., "Masconomet 5, North Reading 1 —," 11 Sep. 2019 The climax of the evening was when Peter fired a blank from a small cannon, of the type used to signal the start for yacht races, off the back-porch steps. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, "My Friend Dorothea Benton Frank," 11 Sep. 2019 The Republic of Ireland youngster has taken academy football by storm, firing 14 goals in just nine league games for the Under-18 side last season., "Troy Parrott: The Tottenham Starlet Is Ready to Battle Harry Kane for First-Team Minutes," 11 Sep. 2019 Exclusive: As frustration with Bolton mounted, Trump reached out to ex-adviser McMaster President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired national security adviser John Bolton on Twitter Tuesday after a string of disagreements. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "GOP narrowly wins North Carolina race, Antonio Brown accused of rape and some good news for America's vets: The Morning Rundown," 11 Sep. 2019 Zhang had acted as her own attorney after firing her public defenders in June. CBS News, "Chinese businesswoman convicted of trespassing at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort," 11 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fire


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b(1)

History and Etymology for fire

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English fȳr; akin to Old High German fiur fire, Greek pyr

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Learn More about fire

Dictionary Entries near fire


fir club moss





fire agriculture

Statistics for fire

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fire

The first known use of fire was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for fire



English Language Learners Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the light and heat and especially the flame produced by burning
: an occurrence in which something burns : the destruction of something (such as a building or a forest) by fire
: a controlled occurrence of fire created by burning something (such as wood or gas) in a special area (such as in a fireplace or stove)



English Language Learners Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shoot a weapon
: to throw (something) with speed and force
: to give life or energy to (something or someone)


\ ˈfīr How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Kids Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the light and heat and especially the flame produced by burning
2 : fuel that is burning in a controlled setting (as in a fireplace)
3 : the destructive burning of something (as a building)
4 : the shooting of weapons rifle fire
on fire
: actively burning
under fire
1 : exposed to the firing of enemy guns
2 : under attack


fired; firing

Kids Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : shoot entry 1 sense 2 fire a gun
2 : to dismiss from employment He was fired from his job.
3 : excite sense 1, stir It's a story to fire the imagination.
4 : to subject to great heat fire pottery
5 : to set off : explode fire a firecracker
6 : to set on fire They carelessly fired the barn.


noun, often attributive
\ ˈfī(ə)r How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Medical Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fever or inflammation especially from a disease


fired; firing

Medical Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to transmit a nerve impulse
2 : to sear (the leg of a horse) with a hot iron in order to convert a crippling chronic inflammation into an acute inflammation that will stimulate the natural healing responses of the body

intransitive verb

: to transmit a nerve impulse the rate at which a neuron fires

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More from Merriam-Webster on fire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fire

Spanish Central: Translation of fire

Nglish: Translation of fire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fire for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about fire

Comments on fire

What made you want to look up fire? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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