mis·​fire | \ ˌmis-ˈfī(-ə)r How to pronounce misfire (audio) \
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 How to pronounce misfire (audio) , ˈmis-ˌfī(-ə)r\

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

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte defended misfiring striker Alvaro Morata despite the Spaniard missing a host of chances in a 2-1 win at Burnley on Thursday. Kieran Canning, chicagotribune.com, "Chelsea cut gap on Tottenham with Burnley win," 19 Apr. 2018 The Rockets' offense struggled and sputtered early, with Harden engulfed in the lane and misfiring on 3s and most of his teammates still searching for their usual shooting touch. Houston Chronicle Sports, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets go Green, blast Timberwolves for 2-0 series lead," 18 Apr. 2018 Khris Davis belted that misfired breaking ball into the left field seats, but a big hit from Andrelton Simmons ensured Harvey’s first start with the Angels was an enjoyable one. Michael Wagaman, The Seattle Times, "Harvey solid in debut, Angels rally to beat A’s 6-2," 29 Mar. 2019 Preliminary data released by Indonesian investigators points to the MCAS feature misfiring when incorrect signals from a single angle-of-attack sensor prompted the system to repeatedly push down the plane’s nose. Andrew Tangel, WSJ, "Boeing and Regulators Delay Jetliner Fixes Prompted by Lion Air Crash," 10 Feb. 2019 Following the Lion Air crash, the FAA and Boeing had been expected to roll out a software fix to an automatic flight-control system suspected of misfiring. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "The FAA Has No Current Plans to Ground Boeing’s 737 MAX After Deadly Crash," 11 Mar. 2019 Ilsinho turned to shoot, and ended up misfiring the ball to just in front of Sapong. Jonathan Tannenwald, Philly.com, "Borek Dockal makes history, Jim Curtin coaches against his mentor, and other Union observations," 28 June 2018 Mobike at first misfired, with bikes that were too heavy for Sydney’s coastal hills and difficult for tall people to ride, a person familiar with the company said. Mike Cherney, WSJ, "Lime Looks to Peddle Its Bicycles in Australia," 16 Jan. 2019 Boeing is devising a separate software fix to prevent the automated safety system from misfiring and leading to the kind of hazard that overtook the Lion Air flight, according to U.S. government and industry officials. Ben Otto, WSJ, "Maintenance Lapse Identified as Initial Problem Leading to Lion Air Crash," 25 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Part of the reason those questions were asked at all was because decades of draft misfires and player development woes required them. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' productive first day of MLB draft shows club drafted its most dire need: talent," 4 June 2019 Ethiopian aviation officials and executives at the plane’s operator, Ethiopian Airlines, have said the pilot and co-pilot followed all the steps that Boeing laid out to cope with a misfire of the plane’s... Robert Wall, WSJ, "As Flight-Control System Is Blamed for Boeing Crash, Pilots’ Actions Also Prompt Questions," 8 Apr. 2019 The stated goal of Dr. Nesse’s book is to emphasize how natural selection has made the human species susceptible to such misfires and malfunctions. David P. Barash, WSJ, "‘Good Reasons for Bad Feelings’ Review: Suffering’s Silver Lining," 13 Feb. 2019 Now that the Zumwalt program has become a billion-dollar misfire, the Marines are unlikely to ever get a dedicated naval gunfire platform again. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "As the Final Zumwalt-Class Stealth Destroyer Launches, the Ships’ Fate Remains Unclear," 11 Dec. 2018 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

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

28 Apr 2019

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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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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