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brush-fire

or brush·fire

[bruhsh-fahyuh r]
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adjective
  1. limited in scope, area, or importance, as some labor disputes or local skirmishes.

Origin of brush-fire

First recorded in 1945–50

brush fire

noun
  1. a fire in an area of bushes, shrubs, or brush, as distinct from a forest fire.
  2. any small but persistent problem, as within a large organization, a department of a government, or between nations: border skirmishes and other international brush fires.

Origin of brush fire

An Americanism dating back to 1770–80
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for brush-fire

Historical Examples

  • The other man did say, A pit tea it was she could nt have had a little sight to see that brush-fire ahead.

    The Story of Opal

    Opal Whiteley


British Dictionary definitions for brush-fire

brush fire

noun
  1. a fire in bushes and scrub
  2. a minor local war
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