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

Synonyms for firework


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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, 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 London, the epicenter of Omicron, will continue to welcome the New Year at midnight with an annual firework display and performances. New York Times, 31 Dec. 2021 In London, the traditional firework display was axed, as was a replacement live music event in Trafalgar Square. Max Colchester, WSJ, 31 Dec. 2021 Franklin Fire Marshal Andy King said video evidence showed the fire began around 10:20 p.m., roughly an hour after the homeowner disposed of a consumer firework product next to his trash can and other combustibles. Natalie Allison, USA TODAY, 7 July 2020 Thanks to the movie’s colorful palette, each frame pops like a firework. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Nov. 2021 Familiar around the world as the setting for London’s New Year firework display, this distinctive cantilever observation wheel now has a new element with a calming Wellness Pod set aside for the discovery of inner peace. Nel-olivia Waga, Forbes, 18 Oct. 2021 Never re-light a firework that’s a dud or that previously malfunctioned. Ada Tseng, Los Angeles Times, 1 July 2021 Both the French 75 and the Mojito are fresh and radiant—the former is bright exuberance, a firework contained in a glass, and the latter is practically made of sunshine. Jason O'bryan, Robb Report, 24 June 2021 In 2019, 27-year-old Daniel Nogueira allegedly threw a firework into an encampment below the 2 Freeway in Eagle Rock, sparking a brush fire that injured homeless people and firefighters. Gregory Yee Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2021

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

10 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Firework.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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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
: 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

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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