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 Most big firework displays have been canceled because of the pandemic, but that won’t stop folks from shooting off their own. Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic, "As July 4 skies light up, throw a puppy paw-ty to distract dogs from fireworks," 5 July 2020 To allow New Yorkers to experience the fireworks without creating crowds, the annual Independence Day spectacle will instead showcase five-minute firework displays taped earlier this week throughout New York City. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, "Fourth of July from home? A guide to fireworks specials and holiday-themed movies and shows," 3 July 2020 More: Many of Michigan's firework displays have been canceled. Emma Dale, Detroit Free Press, "July 4 weekend guide: Expect lower gas prices, hot weather, some fireworks," 2 July 2020 Alongside amateur firework displays and backyard grills, snacks remain at the core of these gatherings. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "Snacks remain a Fourth of July focal point during COVID-19," 2 July 2020 The firework show normally brings hundreds of thousands of people to the riverfront on either side of the Ohio River. Ian Mckenzie, The Enquirer, "WEBN firework display at Riverfest is sill up for debate this year," 2 July 2020 Sorgi said that due to mass cancellations of larger firework shows, many families are turning to consumer fireworks. Megan Marples, CNN, "Fireworks at home: Risks and safer alternatives, as sales skyrocket," 30 June 2020 Members of the House also passed House Bill 686, which allows Fourth of July parades and firework displays to take place. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "Two more bills defying Cooper's order, including Fourth of July celebrations, head to his desk," 24 June 2020 Magnolia’s annual firework show will begin around 9 p.m. For more information, visit the Magnolia Festival Committee Facebook page. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Northwest Houston communities plan patriotic fun and fireworks this Fourth of July," 24 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for firework

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The first known use of firework was circa 1580

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Last Updated

8 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Firework.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for firework


How to pronounce firework (audio)

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

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