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 As Ukrainian cameras recorded from the sky and the ground, the Russian launcher burst like a giant firework. David Axe, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2023 If each neuron triggers less than one other, the activity tends to fizzle out, like a damp firework. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 19 Sep. 2022 Ashanti, who performed alongside Ja Rule and Nas at the 2002 VMAs, looked like a firework in a glittering beaded dress. Staff Author Published, Peoplemag, 24 Aug. 2022 Earlier in the week, the Rangers elected to keep starter Jon Gray in a one-run game to face Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez a fourth time rather than turn to a bullpen that has exploded in July like a roadside firework. Dallas News, 31 July 2022 In an echo of the Salonen, the movement quickened and tightened into a racing reverie that burst like a firework. Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2022 Over 100 bonfires were lit around the country, followed by extravagant firework displays, concerts and parades. Ella Feldman, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2023 In cities with large East and Southeast Asian populations, family celebrations at home are accompanied by Lunar New Year flower markets, parades, banquet dinners and firework displays. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 19 Jan. 2023 The three-day event is scheduled to have arts and cultural exhibitions, folk and traditional performances, a firework display, line dances and family-friendly activities. San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Jan. 2023 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 21 Mar. 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

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