wild·​fire | \ ˈwī(-ə)ld-ˌfī(-ə)r How to pronounce wildfire (audio) \

Definition of wildfire

1 : a sweeping and destructive conflagration especially in a wilderness or a rural area
3 : a phosphorescent glow (such as ignis fatuus or fox fire)
4 : a destructive leaf-spot disease of tobacco caused by several strains of a bacterium (Pseudomonas syringae)
like wildfire
: very rapidly the news spread like wildfire

Examples of wildfire in a Sentence

The recent wildfires were made worse by the strong winds.

Recent Examples on the Web

Information about stocking an emergency kit, developing an emergency plan, and designing or modifying the space around homes to resist wildfire will be provided. Ramona Sentinel, "Learn about power shutoff plans at utility’s open house," 19 June 2019 Many of California’s worst wildfires have been started by human behavior, people sending sparks into an environment primed to ignite. Sarah Feldberg, SFChronicle.com, "Traveling in California during fire season? Here’s what you need to know," 19 June 2019 Air pollution experts agree wildfires likely have had a role, along with random variation, a stronger economy which leads to more consumption of fuels, and a changing climate. Anchorage Daily News, "US air quality slips after years of improvement," 18 June 2019 Last month, regulators approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid catastrophic wildfires. NBC News, "California utility PG&E to pay $1 billion to governments for wildfire damage," 18 June 2019 Global warming threatens to change the ecology of deserts: Higher temperatures may produce more wildfires that alter desert landscapes by eliminating slow-growing trees and shrubs and replacing them with fast-growing grasses. Christina Nunez, National Geographic, "Deserts, explained," 12 June 2019 California experienced a very wet winter and spring, and even vast areas that were scorched earth after last year's wildfires now have new head-high brush that is rapidly browning as summer approaches. Fox News, "California utility proactively cuts power because of weather," 9 June 2019 Instead, wildfires to the north of the city created smoke so thick that streetlights came on at midday. The Economist, "Justin Trudeau is trapped between eco-warriors and gas-guzzlers," 8 June 2019 California’s wildfires appear to be supercharging a national trend. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "California’s wildfires may be the best thing to happen to home batteries," 7 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wildfire.' 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 wildfire

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for wildfire

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for wildfire

The first known use of wildfire was in the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of wildfire

: a fire in a wild area (such as a forest) that is not controlled and that can burn a large area very quickly


wild·​fire | \ ˈwīld-ˌfīr How to pronounce wildfire (audio) \

Kids Definition of wildfire

: an uncontrollable fire that destroys a wide area

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More from Merriam-Webster on wildfire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wildfire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wildfire

Spanish Central: Translation of wildfire

Nglish: Translation of wildfire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wildfire

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