fire·​storm | \ ˈfī(-ə)r-ˌstȯrm How to pronounce firestorm (audio) \

Definition of firestorm

1 : a very intense and destructive fire usually accompanied by high winds The Rooses' house and gardens were obliterated in the 1991 Oakland firestorm.— Craig Summers Black especially : one that is started by attack with nuclear or incendiary weapons and that creates a powerful updraft which causes very strong inrushing winds to develop in the surrounding area His goal was to create firestorms like the ones that had consumed Hamburg and Dresden, conflagrations so vast and intense that nothing could survive them … — David M. Kennedy
2a : a sudden or violent outburst a firestorm of public protest
b : a raging controversy a political firestorm

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Examples of firestorm in a Sentence

The bombing left the city engulfed in a firestorm. His proposal set off a political firestorm. a firestorm of public protest
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Recent Examples on the Web

The statement and subsequent others have generated a firestorm of debate, with some calling the remarks racist and evocative of hateful rhetoric that calls for people of color and non-English speakers to return to their countries of origin. Brady Slater, Twin Cities, "Minn. Congressman Pete Stauber won’t condemn Trump, calls controversy over Twitter remarks a ‘distraction’," 16 July 2019 The couple is among about 3,000 people living again in this Sierra Nevada foothills town that will forever be known for the historic firestorm that killed 85 people and destroyed more than 14,000 homes. Ashlyn Rollins, The Mercury News, "‘When will this end?’ Months after Camp Fire, living in Paradise still feels like ‘everybody’s in crisis’," 7 July 2019 Who knew that such a sentence would trigger a firestorm of reactions and debate across Detroit and Michigan social media? Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "Which Faygo flavor would you keep? Debate takes Detroit social media by storm," 18 June 2019 These changes are part of a broad commitment to diversity that the Academy undertook last year in the wake of a clumsy comment by Neil Portnow, the Academy's president/CEO, that touched off a firestorm. Paul Grein, Billboard, "BTS Among More Than 1,300 Potential New Members Invited to Join Recording Academy," 6 June 2019 With each audition and each new gig, Perrineau takes another step forward from the firestorm that threatened to swallow her whole. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "Aurora Perrineau Wanted to Be Known as an Actor. Instead, Her Name Got Dragged Into Scandal," 21 May 2019 Conroy's decision to rescind his resignation comes a week after news of Ryan's decision created a firestorm among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. NBC News, "House chaplain ousted by Paul Ryan rescinds his resignation," 3 May 2018 Biden’s comments set off a firestorm among his political rivals and some political analysts, who described his language as offensive and anachronistic. NBC News, "Joe Biden didn't just compromise with segregationists. He fought for their cause in schools, experts say.," 25 June 2019 The June 15 arrest of Irby, first reported by LkldNow, set off a firestorm of criticism after it was revealed that Irby’s husband, Joseph Irby, had been arrested the previous day and accused ramming his wife’s car after a divorce proceeding. Michael Williams,, "Drop case against Polk woman arrested for giving husband’s guns to police, Orlando lawmaker urges prosecutors," 24 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'firestorm.' 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 firestorm

1945, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

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The first known use of firestorm was in 1945

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English Language Learners Definition of firestorm

: a very large fire that destroys everything in its path and produces powerful winds
: a large amount of anger and criticism

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