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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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

There were more fireworks: Nadal running down a Federer volley and flicking his backhand to drop deep in the corner, an impossible get; Federer flying in on his forehand. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Federer and Nadal’s Wimbledon Rematch Showed Just How Alike the Two Greats Have Become," 12 July 2019 There are also a number of other events in the city this weekend including a Yard Goats game, a concert at Xfinity Theatre and the Riverfront fireworks and food truck festival. Shawn Mcfarland,, "Everything you need to know about Hartford Athletic’s home opener at Dillon Stadium including parking and pregame festivities," 11 July 2019 By New Year’s Eve, Culpo and Amendola both posted nearly identical video clips of fireworks going off on a beach, leading to speculation that the pair celebrated together and had reconciled. Joelle Goldstein,, "Olivia Culpo Opens Up About Her Past Battle with Depression: 'It's Ok to Not Be Ok'," 11 July 2019 The Aberdeen IronBirds will have fireworks after games on the following dates: July 19, 26, Aug. 2, 9, 30., "Aberdeen: Free IronBirds tickets available to city residents," 11 July 2019 Lisa Berry, public information officer for Goodyear police said an unidentified woman believed to be Montenegro, along with 26-year-old Daniel Torres of Buckeye, attempted to rob a Goodyear fireworks stand. Claire Rafford, azcentral, "Goodyear police looking for woman in connection with fireworks stand shooting," 10 July 2019 Rich Chatman, a Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman, said investigators don’t know who lit the fireworks that burned the residential building in the 3900 block of Northeast Garfield Avenue early Friday., "Illegal fireworks sparked fire that torched NE Portland fourplex," 10 July 2019 In San Jose, where all fireworks outside of professional displays are banned, San Jose police fielded over 1,700 complaints between June 1 and July 5. Erin Woo, The Mercury News, "Gilroy police issued 60 fireworks-related citations," 9 July 2019 High in the stands of the Stade de Lyon, two girls stood watching the United States celebrate, glitter spread across the field, firework smoke in the air. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Stars and Stripes (and Wins) Forever," 7 July 2019

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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Statistics for firework

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for firework

The first known use of firework was circa 1580

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on firework

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with firework

Nglish: Translation of firework for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on firework

What made you want to look up firework? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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