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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for misfire

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 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 Even if some neurons misfired, a stimulus would most likely still get correctly labeled. Quanta Magazine, "A Power Law Keeps the Brain’s Perceptions Balanced," 22 Oct. 2019 The uptempo attack that’s Babers’ calling card is misfiring way too often and needs a quick fix before the season slips away. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pitt beats Syracuse 27-20; defense racks up 9 sacks," 18 Oct. 2019 Taxing and redistributing wealth, then, could be a justified response to misfiring markets. The Economist, "Wealth taxes have moved up the political agenda," 3 Oct. 2019 The devices often misfire, inserting random characters or punctuation into messages, Robertson said. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Technology from 1964 keeps Colorado’s deaf inmates from communicating with the outside. A judge’s ruling just changed that.," 20 Sep. 2019 Premier League winner, son of a Premier League legend and – more pertinently – starting goalkeeper for Leicester, who have conceded the fewest goals in the league this season and play at home (good) to Bournemouth (misfiring, a little) this weekend. SI.com, "Premier League Fantasy Football: Who's Hot and Who's Not in Gameweek 4," 29 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Even the greatest artists have their misfires, a fact Nelson’s film does not acknowledge in this case. Howard Reich, Detroit Free Press, "Miles Davis 'Birth of the Cool' documentary works best when his words and music soar," 18 Oct. 2019 Coan finished 6 for 7 using play action, and the lone misfire was very nearly caught by Quintez Cephus. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Badgers capitalized on their elite running game by supplementing it with superb play-action production," 5 Oct. 2019 Black woukd then misfire on his next six of his next seven passes. J. Daniel Pearson Iii, orlandosentinel.com, "Osceola Kowboys lasso Harmony Longhorns 45 - 0," 23 Aug. 2019 Neither Eddy Pineiro nor Elliott Fry has ever attempted a field goal in the NFL, so maybe the player capable of easing tensions after 2018's misfires isn't even on the roster yet. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "50 things to know about NFL teams' training camps in 2019," 15 July 2019 Dalton's forgettable performance included multiple misfires and force throws to Tyler Boyd. Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati.com, "What we learned: Cincinnati Bengals now 0-7 after losing to Jacksonville Jaguars," 20 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.

See More

First Known Use of misfire


1752, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1789, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about misfire

Time Traveler for misfire

Time Traveler

The first known use of misfire was in 1752

See more words from the same year

Statistics for misfire

Last Updated

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Misfire.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misfire?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=m&file=misfir01. Accessed 11 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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


heavy with or as if with moisture

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!