fire·​work | \ˈfī(-ə)r-ˌwərk \

Definition of firework 

1 : a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions

2 fireworks plural : a display of fireworks

3 fireworks plural

a : a display of temper or intense conflict

b : a spectacular display the fireworks of autumn leaves

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Did You Know?

The word fireworks burst upon the scene in the 1500s as a reference to military explosives (a sense that is now obsolete). These explosives were originally used as weapons, of course, but soon they were also being used in explosive displays celebrating victory or peace. By 1575 people were oohing and aahing over "fireworks shewed upon the water; the which were both strange and wel [sic] executed." Figurative uses have been popping up ever since the 1600s. In addition to the angry explosion sense illustrated in our second example sentence, fireworks can also refer to a spectacular display of musical, visual, or verbal brilliance, as in "an outstanding album, bursting with spectacular musical fireworks."

Examples of firework in a Sentence

Are you going to stay for the fireworks? We expect a few fireworks during the presidential debate.

Recent Examples on the Web

There are no fireworks associated with the event that day. Felicia Gans,, "A guide to the festivities: Plan your Fourth of July on the Esplanade," 29 June 2018 Anthony Messenger, a sports intern, thought the popping sound might be fireworks. New York Times, "Gunman’s Rampage Turned Quiet Newsroom Into Chaos," 29 June 2018 That night there will be fireworks at 9:30 p.m. centered at Main Street and Millview Drive. Joy Davis, Aurora Beacon-News, "Fox Valley ready to celebrate Fourth of July," 29 June 2018 There were also some fireworks just prior to Winker's homer, as Joey Votto and Kratz got into a verbal confrontation at home plate during Votto's at-bat. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 6, Reds 4: Aguilar, Thames power comeback victory," 28 June 2018 After a 72-second replay review, Suarez resumed his trot around the bases, the fans in left field could celebrate again and there were more fireworks. Bobby Nightengale,, "Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez back-to-back homers lift Cincinnati Reds to win vs. Tigers," 20 June 2018 Following the band performance will be more fireworks. Sheryl Devore, Lake County News-Sun, "Great Lakes goes all out with two nights of fireworks," 19 June 2018 But there are almost surely more fireworks to come. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Tit-for-Tat: Trump and Xi Both Think the Other Guy is Bluffing," 16 June 2018 There have been fireworks over Red Square, and nearby Nikolskaya Street has been a hub of song and color, with locals singing alongside supporters from Mexico, Peru, Colombia and others. Brian Straus,, "Russia's World Cup Opener Alters Its Narrative, Changes Its Outlook, Pleases Putin," 14 June 2018

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

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for firework

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for firework

The first known use of firework was circa 1580

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More Definitions for firework



English Language Learners Definition of firework

: a small device that explodes to make a display of light and noise

fireworks : a display where fireworks are exploded

fireworks : a display of anger


fire·​work | \ˈfīr-ˌwərk \

Kids Definition of firework

1 : a device that makes a display of light or noise by the burning of explosive or flammable materials

2 fireworks plural : a display of fireworks

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Comments on firework

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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