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

Essential Meaning of fire

1 : the light and heat and especially the flame produced by burning Stay away from the fire.
2 : an occurrence in which something burns : the destruction of something (such as a building or a forest) by fire The shack was destroyed by a fire. Two people died in that terrible fire. See More ExamplesHow did the fire start? Police think he set a fire [=deliberately started a fire] in the bedroom. Firefighters put the fire out. = Firefighters put out the fire. [=firefighters stopped the fire from burning] The shack caught (on) fire [=began to burn] when it was struck by lightning. Someone set fire to the shack. [=deliberately caused the shack to burn]Hide
3 : 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) 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.

Full 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

Other Words from fire


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


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

Synonyms for fire

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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 But Herro caught fire in the fourth, helping the Heat outscore the Pistons by 17 points in the final 12 minutes. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, 24 Nov. 2021 At least 45 people, including a dozen children, were killed after a tourist bus from North Macedonia crashed and caught fire in Bulgaria early Tuesday, officials said. Dragana Jovanovic, ABC News, 23 Nov. 2021 Police and prosecutors say Ruggs, 22, and his girlfriend, Kiara Je’nai Kilgo-Washington, were injured in the pre-dawn Nov. 2 crash, when Ruggs’ Chevrolet Corvette slammed into the rear of a Toyota Rav4 that caught fire. Fox News, 22 Nov. 2021 Police and prosecutors say Ruggs, 22, and his girlfriend, Kiara Je'nai Kilgo-Washington, were injured in the pre-dawn November 2 crash, when Ruggs' Chevrolet Corvette slammed into the rear of a Toyota Rav4 that caught fire. CBS News, 22 Nov. 2021 Adele's endlessly lip-syncable music might be made for the more theatrical moments posted to TikTok, which caught fire and became a fresh vehicle for pop stardom in the interregnum between 25 and 30. Maura Johnston,, 19 Nov. 2021 Another, filled with the company’s Rock ‘n Roary dinosaur rocker, was on a boat that caught fire last month off the coast of Vancouver, B.C. Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2021 Tina Tintor’s Toyota Rav4 caught fire after being struck by a Corvette Stingray driven by Ruggs. Mark Inabinett |, al, 12 Nov. 2021 But for whatever reason, those Lights champs that haven’t caught fire out of the gate have largely been left to the wayside. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 12 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After arriving at headquarters, the officers received letters informing them that the Interior Department was seeking to fire them, even though they had recently been cleared of all criminal charges, union officials said Tuesday. Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2021 Sometimes, the simplest thing is to just fire the puck on net. Globe Staff,, 22 Nov. 2021 He’s been suspended several times in his career, and past police superintendents have tried twice to fire him. Jeremy Gorner,, 14 Nov. 2021 Our goal is to fire 99% of employees before they are hired. Jason Wilson, Forbes, 9 Nov. 2021 At that meeting, Donoghue and others told Trump there would be mass resignations at the Justice Department if the President were to fire the acting attorney general and put Clark in charge. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, 5 Nov. 2021 If it is not granted, there is a chance the Cougars could try to fire him for cause. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 17 Oct. 2021 Not everyone supported the new strategy: Several members of the Kenton County Airport Board, which runs the airport, attempted to fire her and subjected her to numerous performance reviews. Alexander Coolidge, The Enquirer, 14 Oct. 2021 When Troup tried to appeal to a panel not to fire him, his team discovered that the internal affairs division of the Sheriff’s Office missed a deadline to take any action at all. Eileen Kelley,, 13 Oct. 2021

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

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Statistics for fire

Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for fire


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on fire

Nglish: Translation of fire for Spanish Speakers

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


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