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 upfired 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

Examples of fire in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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 In Seattle, four city-run testing sites recently went from accommodating more than 3,000 people per day to more than 5,000, Seattle fire Capt. Jason Hanna, CNN, "Lines to get tested for coronavirus are growing long ahead of Thanksgiving and amid rising cases," 20 Nov. 2020 The stock market isn’t a bubble, but parts of it are on fire. Jason Zweig, WSJ, "A Stock Market Bubble? It’s More Like a Fire," 20 Nov. 2020 Lopez also spent another $2,000 on damages to his home and his neighbors’ garage after it was set on fire by a group of males that also threw a brick in his front window. Laura Rodríguez Presa,, "Alderman’s ward office vandalized for 3rd time this year, 3 caught on video throwing bricks through window," 20 Nov. 2020 Police were advised at 8:58 a.m. Nov. 12 that someone tried to set the bathroom at the East River Park on fire. cleveland, "Woman loses $10,000 in fraud but delays meeting with police: Olmsted Falls Police Blotter," 20 Nov. 2020 Several people, of seemingly different motivations, have been charged with lighting the precinct building on fire. Andy Mannix, Star Tribune, "Man pleads guilty to helping burn down Minneapolis Third Precinct headquarters," 19 Nov. 2020 There were people who could recall lighting the water on fire, said Bob Lewis, 78, who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years and watched the dredging unfold on Monday. Mihir Zaveri, New York Times, "Getting ‘Black Mayonnaise’ Out of One of America’s Dirtiest Waterways," 19 Nov. 2020 The world was metaphorically on fire, and then swaths of the U.S. were literally ablaze. Angela Haupt, Washington Post, "The most 2020 books of 2020," 19 Nov. 2020 In Kenosha, buildings were destroyed after being set on fire after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer. Evan Casey, USA TODAY, "Wisconsin police officer who fatally shot three people in the last five years is resigning," 18 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Press your lower back into the floor to fire up your abdominals. Lauren Bedosky, Outside Online, "Strength Training for Lower-Back Pain," 18 Nov. 2020 Republicans had hoped to fire up the GOP base in North Carolina by scheduling the party's convention in Charlotte over the summer. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Trump wins North Carolina, leaving all states called in 2020 election," 13 Nov. 2020 After the rocket fires the Crew Dragon into the upper atmosphere, the spacecraft will separate and fire up its own thrusters to begin maneuvering toward the space station. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "SpaceX-NASA launch: What to know ahead of Saturday's Crew Dragon astronaut mission," 13 Nov. 2020 Trump, who used the anthem issue to fire up his base, still received more than 72 million votes — significantly more raw votes than in 2016 — while losing re-election to Joseph R. Biden Jr., who earned more than 77 million votes. Jeré Longman, New York Times, "How Trump Lost Sports as a Political Strategy," 11 Nov. 2020 But that gave Triguero a reason to finally fire up those cameras. Keith Spera,, "Chickie Wah Wah won't reopen until 2021, but is now webcasting weekly performances," 10 Nov. 2020 But as Donald Trump continues to fire up legal battles in the wake of Joe Biden's presidential election victory, there are doubts as to whether the 45th president of the U.S. will deliver a traditional concession speech. Jay Cannon, USA TODAY, "Bob Dole was funny, John McCain was sincere: Here's how presidential candidates have conceded over the years," 10 Nov. 2020 On Monday Hegar made campaign stops in Fort Worth and Dallas to fire up base voters in advance of the election. Dallas News, "Donald Trump, Joe Biden highlight Lone Star showdown that could change face of Texas politics," 3 Nov. 2020 Both have attended events around the state in recent days to shore up support and fire up enthusiasm. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "Campaigns make last push for votes in Alaska before election," 3 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for fire

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fire

Last Updated

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for fire


How to pronounce Fire (audio)

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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