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 On July 4, 2020, Glenn Powell, 63, of Mt. Healthy, Ohio, was killed after he was struck in the head by a display firework, prosecutors say. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 15 Sep. 2022 Two toilets were damaged July 3 when someone put a firework in the Proesel Park pavilion bathroom in the 6900 block of Kostner Ave., police said. Chicago Tribune, 11 July 2022 Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting. Rebekah L. Sanders, The Arizona Republic, 2 July 2022 Everything seems possible for a bright, colorful firework of a moment. David G. Allan, CNN, 21 Dec. 2021 Around midnight in Portland, a firework was thrown over the fence at the Justice Center, injuring a Multnomah County deputy, Portland police Lt. Steven Sloan, Time, 7 June 2020 November 5 firework displays are now more commonplace than bonfires. CNN, 5 Nov. 2022 The noise came from a firework set off by a group of juveniles. Graydon Megan,, 21 Mar. 2022 There will be a bourbon bar on the concourse, a Louisville Mashers flask giveaway and a post-game firework show. The Courier-Journal, 1 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

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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