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[bon-fahyuh r] /ˈbɒnˌfaɪər/
a large fire built in the open air, for warmth, entertainment, or celebration, to burn leaves, garbage, etc., or as a signal.
any fire built in the open.
Origin of bonfire
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English bone fire, i.e., a fire with bones for fuel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bonfire
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Let us get to windward and see what they are doing on the other side of the bonfire.

  • As if he were not capable of controlling a raft or a bonfire!

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • She had a black smudge from the end of the beanpole, which had been in a bonfire, across her forehead.

    W. A. G.'s Tale Margaret Turnbull
  • If I should try just once to tell her what she ought to do she'd flare up like a bonfire.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Her face flamed at him, the bonfire's light when prejudice is burned.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
British Dictionary definitions for bonfire


a large outdoor fire
Word Origin
C15: alteration (through influence of French bon good) of bone-fire; from the use of bones as fuel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bonfire

1550s, from Middle English banefire (late 15c.), originally a fire in which bones were burned. See bone (n.) + fire (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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