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 news set off a firestorm among MPs and political leaders of various stripes. Adam Rasmi, Quartz, "Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend UK parliament," 28 Aug. 2019 The murder of a white policewoman by a black teenager set off a firestorm of debate, much of it racially charged. Tim Prudente,, "Police video: After running over Baltimore County officer Caprio, teen tried to hide Jeep key in interrogation," 26 Aug. 2019 The footage, which includes the sobs of her daughter, emerged Friday and set off a firestorm in Turkey, where rights groups say violence against women is common. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Video of woman stabbed by ex-husband revives domestic violence debate in Turkey," 23 Aug. 2019 Miley Cyrus is used to making headlines, but all that Liam Hemsworth/Kaitlynn Carter drama set off a firestorm that Miley had to put out herself. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Miley Cyrus Just Went on a Whole Twitter Rant About Her Pending Divorce From Liam Hemsworth," 22 Aug. 2019 Hammond announced the score as 3-1 for McEnroe, setting off a firestorm that lasted nearly 20 minutes. New York Times, "A Night to Remember at the U.S. Open," 22 Aug. 2019 The Huawei executive's arrest set off a political firestorm. Jill Disis, CNN, "Huawei executive fighting extradition claims US and Canada unlawfully detained her," 21 Aug. 2019 The incident sparked a firestorm of criticism on mainland Chinese social media, as well as forceful statements of support from the Taiwanese government and local film industry figures. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Beijing Orders Mainland Chinese Stars to Boycott Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards," 7 Aug. 2019 Trump's racist comments have sparked a firestorm of controversy. Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY, "Sen. Tim Kaine says Trump's 'go back' tweets violate federal anti-discrimination law," 17 July 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

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for firestorm

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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Comments on firestorm

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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