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

Verb their scheme to rob the bank misfired disastrously and landed them all in jail
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Terrence Humphrey scored on a 1-yard run and Andre Little caught a 15-yard scoring pass from Christian Lopez for North Alabama (1-3), but Joe Gurley misfired on both PATs. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Jacksonville State rolls past rival North Alabama 30-12," 21 Sep. 2019 Teammate Terren Frank extended the lead at the free-throw line before STVM’s Marcus Johnson misfired on a last-second 3-point attempt. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Bronny James delivers Sierra Canyon 59-56 win vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron James’ alma mater: Saturday’s boys basketball roundup," 15 Dec. 2019 The Hoosiers committed nine quick turnovers, began misfiring from behind the arc and struggled to create the good looks around the rim off the drive that had made everything so easy in the first 20 minutes. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "IU basketball rides hot first half to beat Louisiana Tech," 26 Nov. 2019 With the game tied at 103-103, Pacers guard Aaron Holiday misfired on a 19-foot jumper with 21.9 seconds left. Roy Parry, orlandosentinel.com, "Magic rally but fall to Pacers during first full game without Vucevic, Gordon," 23 Nov. 2019 Williams too had a rough start, misfiring on her first three shots of the game before shooting 50 percent (7-for-14) from that point forward. Alexa Philippou, courant.com, "The Connecticut Sun may be young, but when they needed it most, their younger players stepped up," 19 Sep. 2019 The Dutchman was misfiring, and could have had another two before Barca went to town. SI.com, "Barcelona 4-0 Sevilla: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Sensational Luis Suarez Strike Starts Rout," 6 Oct. 2019 Boeing has redesigned software linked to the two crashes to prevent it from erroneously misfiring and overwhelming pilots. Washington Post, "Boeing’s Grounded 737 Max: The Story So Far," 20 Sep. 2019 There’s even some work that suggests dementia is a result of misfiring brainwaves. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "The future of Alzheimer’s treatment can’t bank on just one drug," 24 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One of the few misfires for Mac Jones was handling a snap on third down deep in its own territory early in the second quarter. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "A few extra observations, historical context of Alabama’s 63-point win," 24 Nov. 2019 Bondy committed five service errors to Southmore’s two, but the Lady Bulldogs’ second misfire from the serving line deposited Bondy at match point and Stacey Marin brought it home with a kill. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Bondy, Miller, Queens, Thompson advance in 8B volleyball tourney," 16 Oct. 2019 But the high-profile misfires threaten to upset banks’ investor clients and stifle repeat business. Michelle F. Davis, Los Angeles Times, "IPO duds at Peloton, Endeavor give Wall Street bankers another black eye," 27 Sep. 2019 Glennon had the most glaring misfire when his pass over the middle of the field was intercepted by safety Erik Harris with no receiver in the area. Matt Kawahara, SFChronicle.com, "Raiders practice report: Gruden wants more from backup QBs," 4 Aug. 2019 During a seizure, neurons misfire and send an abnormally large and quick surge of electrical signals to the brain. Scottie Andrew And Geetha Parachuru, CNN, "What is epilepsy? Here's what you need to know about the seizure-causing spectrum of disorders," 8 July 2019 But there was no excusing the second interception or the cavalcade of misfires that came before and after it. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Colts suffer shocking loss to Dolphins as Vinatieri, Ebron, Hoyer struggle," 10 Nov. 2019 His early tenure was marked with sloppy on-field play and a couple of bizarre off-field leadership misfires. John Canzano | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Canzano: Willie Taggart’s firing leaves Oregon Ducks as the only winner," 3 Nov. 2019 If her efforts misfire, Fisher added, the older people risk making the movement look uncool. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change," 19 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for misfire

Time Traveler

The first known use of misfire was in 1752

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Statistics for misfire

Last Updated

6 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Misfire.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misfire. Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for misfire


How to pronounce misfire (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misfire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with misfire

Spanish Central: Translation of misfire

Nglish: Translation of misfire for Spanish Speakers

Comments on misfire

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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