fire·​work | \ ˈfī(-ə)r-ˌwərk How to pronounce firework (audio) \
plural fireworks

Definition of firework

1 : a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions setting off fireworks
2 fireworks plural : a display of fireworks a celebration marked by fireworks A large crowd gathered to watch the fireworks. a spectacular fireworks display Of course there is more to the Fourth of July than fireworks.— John Updike
3 fireworks plural
a : a display of temper or intense conflict … director Jack Hofsiss, in his film debut, and screenwriter David Rabe … fill the screen with raw emotional fireworks.People Weekly
b : strong feelings of usually romantic or sexual attraction between two people … Hollywood has done a pretty convincing job of making so many of us believe that if there aren't immediate fireworks between two people, then it's time to walk away.— Tayi Sanusi
c : a spectacular display the fireworks of autumn leaves

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Synonyms for firework


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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 Not long after former vice president Joe Biden was pronounced victorious in the U.S. presidential race, church bells could be heard in Paris and colorful firework displays lit up skies over several British cities. Karla Adam, Washington Post, "No, Paris didn’t ring church bells for Biden. And London’s fireworks had more to do with Guy Fawkes.," 9 Nov. 2020 The drones are usually quadcopters -- a drone with four rotors and often complement firework displays. Jazmin Goodwin, CNN, "Those wild firework drones after Joe Biden's victory speech, explained," 9 Nov. 2020 At one point, a large firework exploded near the police line. oregonlive, "Building awning set aflame; police declare riot, deploy tear gas in 88th night of Portland protests Sunday," 24 Aug. 2020 In the top half of the picture, gold material explodes like a firework against a serene, blue background. Peter Saenger, WSJ, "Worlds Within Worlds," 23 Oct. 2020 Three years ago, a fifteen-year-old boy tossed a lit firework into a canyon some thirty miles downriver from my town, setting off a blaze that spread to close to fifty thousand acres and burned for three months. Michelle Nijhuis, The New Yorker, "The West Coast Wildfires Are Apocalypse, Again," 20 Oct. 2020 At least one protester responded by throwing a firework toward officers. oregonlive, "Portland protest of Breonna Taylor grand jury decision prompts ‘riot’ declaration, arrests (key takeaways)," 24 Sep. 2020 As the march moved, one person threw a firework in a trash can, but others discouraged it. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "'It's a tragedy': Protesters say single indictment is not enough in Breonna Taylor case," 23 Sep. 2020 Never lean your body over a firework when lighting. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "10 Fireworks Safety Tips to Guarantee a Safe, Injury-Free Celebration at Home," 1 July 2020

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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The first known use of firework was circa 1580

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Last Updated

17 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Firework.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for firework


How to pronounce firework (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of firework

: a small device that explodes to make a display of light and noise
: a display where fireworks are exploded
: a display of anger


fire·​work | \ ˈfīr-ˌwərk How to pronounce firework (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on firework

Nglish: Translation of firework for Spanish Speakers

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

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