: a sweeping and destructive conflagration especially in a wilderness or a rural area
: a phosphorescent glow (such as ignis fatuus or fox fire)
: 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 The Lahaina neighborhood the Kovach family lived in was almost completely wiped out by the Maui wildfire in August. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 Winds from Hurricane Dora, combined with hot weather and drought conditions, fueled the wildfire. Eden Villalovas, Washington Examiner, 16 Nov. 2023 Mortality and morbidity costs due to exposure to fine particulate air pollution from wildfires in the U.S. are estimated to be between $11 billion and $20 billion a year for short-term exposures, and $76 billion to $130 billion a year for long-term exposures, according to research from the EPA. Martine Ferland, Fortune, 15 Nov. 2023 This was seen earlier this year, when smoke from wildfires in Canada caused some U.S. cities to experience the worst air quality in the world. Li Cohen, CBS News, 15 Nov. 2023 More than two thirds of U.S. buildings destroyed in wildfires were in the West, and 79.5 percent of buildings burned in them were in shrublands and grasslands, the researchers found. Stephanie Pappas, Scientific American, 9 Nov. 2023 Much of Kentucky is experiencing low levels of drought as dozens of wildfires rage across the state. Li Cohen, CBS News, 10 Nov. 2023 Scientists also found that climate change made Canada’s historic wildfire season, in which at least 45 million acres burned, at least twice as likely. Evan Bush, NBC News, 9 Nov. 2023 At the same time, a confluence of factors, including temperature magnified by climate change and the historical over-suppression of wildfire, has increased the risks of major wildfires across many parts of the country. Nadja Popovich, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wildfire.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near wildfire

Cite this Entry

“Wildfire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wildfire. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: an uncontrollable fire that destroys a wide area
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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