noun, often attributive
\ ˈfī(-ə)r How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Essential Meaning of fire

1 : the light and heat and especially the flame produced by burning Stay away from the fire.
2 : an occurrence in which something burns : the destruction of something (such as a building or a forest) by fire The shack was destroyed by a fire. Two people died in that terrible fire. See More ExamplesHow did the fire start? Police think he set a fire [=deliberately started a fire] in the bedroom. Firefighters put the fire out. = Firefighters put out the fire. [=firefighters stopped the fire from burning] The shack caught (on) fire [=began to burn] when it was struck by lightning. Someone set fire to the shack. [=deliberately caused the shack to burn]Hide
3 : a controlled occurrence of fire created by burning something (such as wood or gas) in a special area (such as in a fireplace or stove) We warmed our hands over the fire. She built a fire in the fireplace. The fire went out and he had to light it again.

Full Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a(1) : the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame, and heat
(2) : one of the four elements of the alchemists air, water, fire, and earth
b(1) : burning passion : ardor young lovers with their hearts full of fire
(2) : liveliness of imagination : inspiration the force and fire of his oratory
2a : fuel in a state of combustion (as on a hearth) warmed his hands at the crackling fire
b British : a small gas or electric space heater
3a : a destructive burning (as of a building) The shack was destroyed by a fire.
b(1) : death or torture by fire He confessed under threat of the fire.
(2) : severe trial or ordeal He had proved himself in the fire of battle.
4 : brilliancy, luminosity the fire of a gem
5a : the firing of weapons (such as firearms, artillery, or missiles) The troops were ordered to cease fire. [=stop shooting] They opened fire on [=began shooting at] the enemy. also : the bullets, shells, etc., that are discharged The soldiers endured heavy fire. — see also friendly fire — compare counterfire
b : intense verbal attack or criticism His remarks have provoked heavy fire from his political opponents.
c : a rapidly delivered series (as of remarks)
on fire
1 : being consumed by fire : aflame The house was on fire.
2 : eager, burning He was on fire with enthusiasm.
under fire
1 : exposed to fire from an enemy's weapons The soldier showed courage under fire.
2 : under attack The company has come under fire for its discriminatory hiring policies.


fired; firing

Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to set on fire : kindle also : ignite fire a rocket engine
b(1) : to give life or spirit to : inspire the description fired his imagination
(2) : to fill with passion or enthusiasm often used with up
c : to light up as if by fire
d : to cause to start operating usually used with up fired up the engine
2a : to drive out or away by or as if by fire
b : to dismiss from a position
3a(1) : to cause to explode : detonate
(2) : to propel from or as if from a gun : discharge, launch fire a rocket
(3) : shoot sense 1b fire a gun
(4) : to score (a number) in a game or contest
b : to throw with speed or force fired the ball to first base fire a left jab
c : to utter with force and rapidity
4 : to apply fire or fuel to: such as
a : to process by applying heat fire pottery
b : to feed or serve the fire of fire a boiler

intransitive verb

1a : to take fire : kindle, ignite
b : to begin operation : start the engine fired
c : to operate especially as the result of the application of an electrical impulse the spark plug fires
2a : to become irritated or angry often used with up
b : to become filled with excitement or enthusiasm
3a : to discharge a firearm fire at close range
b : to emit or let fly an object
4 : to tend a fire
5 : to transmit a nerve impulse the rate at which a neuron fires

Definition of FIRE (Entry 3 of 4)

finance, insurance, and real estate


biographical name
\ ˈfī(-ə)r How to pronounce Fire (audio) \

Definition of Fire (Entry 4 of 4)

Andrew Zachary 1959–     American geneticist

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Other Words from fire


fireless \ ˈfī(-​ə)r-​ləs How to pronounce Fire (audio) \ adjective


fireable \ ˈfī(-​ə)r-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce Fire (audio) , ˈfī-​rə-​ \ adjective
firer noun

Synonyms for fire

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of fire in a Sentence

Noun Stay away from the fire. The shack was destroyed by a fire. Two people died in that terrible fire. How did the fire start? We warmed our hands over the fire. She built a fire in the fireplace. The fire went out and he had to light it again. Verb She fired the arrow at the target. He fired several shots at the police. He fired at the police. The gun failed to fire. The soldiers fired on the enemy. The shortstop fired the ball to first base. The angry mob fired rocks at him. The boxer fired a left jab at his opponent's chin. The story fired his imagination. She had to fire several workers.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The closure is near 163rd Avenue in Surprise, and the cement truck fire is on the shoulder, ADOT tweeted shortly before 11:30 a.m. Mike Cruz, The Arizona Republic, 18 Oct. 2021 The public needs to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 18 Oct. 2021 Fox19 reported that there were no injuries from the fire. Kaitlin Lewis, The Enquirer, 18 Oct. 2021 The Gary Fire Department put out the fire, but the police department didn’t learn about the vehicle until Oct. 1. Meredith Colias-pete,, 18 Oct. 2021 Thompson and Texas also get heaved right back into the fire following this bye week. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 18 Oct. 2021 The fire quickly spread to the central stairs and skywalk exits. oregonlive, 18 Oct. 2021 The fire also caused spot fires in open fields, officials said. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Oct. 2021 Subtract the fire, and the whole enterprise is considerably less attractive. Judson Berger, National Review, 17 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Another whistle meant the threat remained and officers needed to fire at the head. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Oct. 2021 With the clock ticking toward the two-minute warning and the Patriots nursing a one-point lead, Jones tried to fire a pass to Kendrick Bourne., 18 Oct. 2021 Navy also had to fire an assistant who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 18 Oct. 2021 Next, Dansby Swanson’s sacrifice bunt attempt went to Graterol, who had time to fire to second base to retire the lead runner with help from a scoop by Corey Seager. Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2021 Axel Springer forwarded a letter from lawyers stating that Bild was not legally obliged to fire Mr. Reichelt. New York Times, 17 Oct. 2021 As in Jeffery’s rats, the bats’ grid cells did not seem to fire in a three-dimensional hexagonal arrangement. Quanta Magazine, 14 Oct. 2021 China is facing an energy crisis, and officials are pulling out all the stops to ensure there’s enough fuel—primarily coal—to fire up power plants to keep factories churning, lights on, and heater running in the coming winter months. Mary Hui, Quartz, 14 Oct. 2021 Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, the third officer to fire his weapon, have both been fired by the department for their actions that night and Hankison faces three counts of wanton endangerment related to Taylor's neighbors. Tessa Duvall, The Courier-Journal, 14 Oct. 2021

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b(1)

History and Etymology for fire

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English fȳr; akin to Old High German fiur fire, Greek pyr

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Time Traveler for fire

Time Traveler

The first known use of fire was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near fire




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Statistics for fire

Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for fire


\ ˈfīr How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Kids Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the light and heat and especially the flame produced by burning
2 : fuel that is burning in a controlled setting (as in a fireplace)
3 : the destructive burning of something (as a building)
4 : the shooting of weapons rifle fire
on fire
: actively burning
under fire
1 : exposed to the firing of enemy guns
2 : under attack


fired; firing

Kids Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : shoot entry 1 sense 2 fire a gun
2 : to dismiss from employment He was fired from his job.
3 : excite sense 1, stir It's a story to fire the imagination.
4 : to subject to great heat fire pottery
5 : to set off : explode fire a firecracker
6 : to set on fire They carelessly fired the barn.


noun, often attributive
\ ˈfī(ə)r How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Medical Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fever or inflammation especially from a disease


fired; firing

Medical Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to transmit a nerve impulse
2 : to sear (the leg of a horse) with a hot iron in order to convert a crippling chronic inflammation into an acute inflammation that will stimulate the natural healing responses of the body

intransitive verb

: to transmit a nerve impulse the rate at which a neuron fires

More from Merriam-Webster on fire

Nglish: Translation of fire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fire for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about fire


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