fire·​work ˈfī(-ə)r-ˌwərk How to pronounce firework (audio)
plural fireworks
: a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions
setting off fireworks
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
fireworks plural
: 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
: 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
: a spectacular display
the fireworks of autumn leaves

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, fireworks can also refer to a spectacular display of musical, visual, or verbal brilliance, as in "an outstanding album, bursting with spectacular musical fireworks."

Example Sentences

Are you going to stay for the fireworks? We expect a few fireworks during the presidential debate.
Recent Examples on the Web Then, in the summer, Paris' iconic Fête de la Musique (World Music Day) brings live music to parks and other public spaces on June 21, and Bastille Day is marked by military parades and fireworks on July 14. Maya Kachroo-levine, Travel + Leisure, 17 May 2023 The party greeted their new friend with fireworks and a heavy metal concert. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, 27 Apr. 2023 During some firefights between U.S. troops and ISIS, the sky would light up with what looked like fireworks, Ms. Akbari recalled. Ava Sasani, New York Times, 27 Apr. 2023 The Thunder Over Louisville fireworks finally started. The Courier-Journal, 23 Apr. 2023 The artists will play on two stages, and the event’s promoters are promising food, drinks, and Fourth of July fireworks. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 21 Apr. 2023 Fans who were primed to watch emotional fireworks on Sunday instead fumed on social media about their inability to access the reunion show, which was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. PT. Kturnqui, oregonlive, 17 Apr. 2023 While Saturday had brought a parade, a concert and fireworks, Sunday’s celebration at Black Lives Matter Plaza — just a few blocks from the White House — was focused on wellness, featuring this fitness routine, go-go performances and live radio broadcasts from two stations. Lizzie Johnson, Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2023 There'd be no other longballs on Wednesday, but plenty of fireworks. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 13 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'firework.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of firework was circa 1580


Dictionary Entries Near firework

Cite this Entry

“Firework.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


fire·​work -ˌwərk How to pronounce firework (audio)
: a device that makes a display of light or noise by the burning of explosive or flammable materials
plural : a display of fireworks
plural : a display of temper

More from Merriam-Webster on firework

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