mis·​fire | \ ˌmis-ˈfī(-ə)r \
misfired; misfiring; misfires

Definition of misfire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to have the explosive or propulsive charge fail to ignite at the proper time the engine misfired
2 : to fail to fire the gun misfired
3 : to miss an intended effect or objective the new ad campaign misfired


mis·​fire | \ ˌmis-ˈfī(-ə)r, ˈmis-ˌ\

Definition of misfire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a failure (as of a cartridge or firearm) to fire
2 : something that misfires

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Synonyms for misfire

Synonyms: Verb


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Examples of misfire in a Sentence


their scheme to rob the bank misfired disastrously and landed them all in jail

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Gonzalez misfired on two extra points and two field-goal attempts, including a 52-yarder in the final seconds that would have forced overtime. Tom Withers, The Seattle Times, "Kicked aside: Browns try out kickers to replace Gonzalez," 17 Sep. 2018 There was James Neal moments later, misfiring onto a yawning net with goalie Braden Holtby watching helplessly nearby and … PING! Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "After Game 4 Win, the Capitals Are on the Cusp of Finishing Their Story in Stanley Cup Final," 5 June 2018 The Pistons were scoring much too easily for the Rockets to also misfire from the 3-point line. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets misfire, defend poorly in loss to Pistons," 6 Jan. 2018 But Ben Simmons’ inbounds pass to Embiid misfired as Horford reached in front of Embiid, deflected the pass and raced down the court. Keith Pompey, Philly.com, "Sixers have one more shot to extend season with Game 4 vs. Celtics on Monday," 6 May 2018 However, never one to hide his feelings on social media, England legend and BBC's World Cup host Gary Lineker decided to rip apart a misfiring Luis Suarez. SI.com, "Gary Lineker Rips Apart Misfiring Luis Suarez's Awful World Cup Performance With Salah Comparison," 15 June 2018 When the Rockets misfired, Stephen Curry lit up the third quarter as few other can, nearly outscoring the Rockets by himself, making 4 of 5 3-pointers as if to torment the Rockets with a reminder of all that was missing. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets misfire as Warriors surge to Game 7 win," 28 May 2018 Some privacy experts caution against how the technology could misfire and discriminate against certain passengers, including those with physical disabilities. Rachel Siegel, latimes.com, "Uber wants a patent on tech to help guess if a rider is drunk," 12 June 2018 Harris misfired thrice to walk him, bringing up Benintendi for the game's denouement. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Red Sox rough up Will Harris in Astros' loss," 2 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

These kinds of misfires keep Mary Poppins Returns from truly fulfilling its potential. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Mary Poppins Returns — with a sadder story and forgettable songs," 12 Dec. 2018 What saves this story from feeling like a total misfire is the script’s willingness to scramble your emotional investment. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Creed II is no Creed. But it’s a pretty good Rocky sequel.," 21 Nov. 2018 But Bakish hasn't been able to boost Viacom's share price due to prolonged ratings struggles at key cable networks and box office misfires from Paramount Pictures. Meg James, latimes.com, "CBS' Leslie Moonves received $69 million in compensation last year; Richard Parsons nominated to serve on board," 6 Apr. 2018 Centuries later, the classical fifth element would inspire another epic but influential scientific misfire: alchemy. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "The Eternal Quest for Aether, the Cosmic Stuff That Never Was," 19 Oct. 2018 Despite its second-quarter misfire on subscriber growth, the Los Gatos, California, company reported earnings that beat analyst estimates. Michael Liedtke, The Seattle Times, "Netflix drops dud on Wall St. as subscriber growth flops," 17 July 2018 Yes, shops are seeing engines with problems including rough idle, a drop in fuel economy, misfires and hard starting. Bob Weber, chicagotribune.com, "Drivers can ship your car cross country," 8 July 2018 Renaissance market strategist Matt Kennedy said many potential public companies sat on the sidelines in 2017, concerned about valuations at the time, particularly after a few misfires. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "BJ’s leads the way in busy week for IPOs," 29 June 2018 Another Opportunity for Germany Draxler, and then Werner, both misfire in quick succession. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "A Fearless Mexico Tops Germany, With Help From Its Cerebral Coach," 18 June 2018

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


1752, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1789, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for misfire

Last Updated

24 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for misfire

The first known use of misfire was in 1752

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More Definitions for misfire



English Language Learners Definition of misfire

of an engine : to fail to work properly because the fuel mixture burns at the wrong time

of a gun : to fail to fire properly : to fail to shoot a bullet

: to fail to have an intended effect : to fail to work properly

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More from Merriam-Webster on misfire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with misfire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misfire

Spanish Central: Translation of misfire

Nglish: Translation of misfire for Spanish Speakers

Comments on misfire

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


someone who never drinks alcohol

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