Try Our Apps


Blech. These are the grossest words.


[fahyuh r] /faɪər/
a state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat, and flame.
a burning mass of material, as on a hearth or in a furnace.
the destructive burning of a building, town, forest, etc.; conflagration.
heat used for cooking, especially the lighted burner of a stove:
Put the kettle on the fire.
flashing light; luminous appearance.
brilliance, as of a gem.
burning passion; excitement or enthusiasm; ardor.
liveliness of imagination.
fever or inflammation.
severe trial or trouble; ordeal.
exposure to fire as a means of torture or ordeal.
strength, as of an alcoholic beverage.
a spark or sparks.
the discharge of firearms:
enemy fire.
the effect of firing military weapons:
to pour fire upon the enemy.
British. a gas or electric heater used for heating a room.
Literary. a luminous object, as a star:
heavenly fires.
verb (used with object), fired, firing.
to set on fire.
to supply with fuel; attend to the fire of:
They fired the boiler.
to expose to the action of fire; subject to heat.
to apply heat to in a kiln for baking or glazing; burn.
to heat very slowly for the purpose of drying, as tea.
to inflame, as with passion; fill with ardor.
to inspire.
to light or cause to glow as if on fire.
to discharge (a gun).
to project (a bullet or the like) by or as if by discharging from a gun.
to subject to explosion or explosive force, as a mine.
to hurl; throw:
to fire a stone through a window.
to dismiss from a job.
Veterinary Medicine. to apply a heated iron to (the skin) in order to create a local inflammation of the superficial structures, with the intention of favorably affecting deeper inflammatory processes.
to drive out or away by or as by fire.
verb (used without object), fired, firing.
to take fire; be kindled.
to glow as if on fire.
to become inflamed with passion; become excited.
to shoot, as a gun.
to discharge a gun:
to fire at a fleeing enemy.
to hurl a projectile.
Music. to ring the bells of a chime all at once.
(of plant leaves) to turn yellow or brown before the plant matures.
(of an internal-combustion engine) to cause ignition of the air-fuel mixture in a cylinder or cylinders.
(of a nerve cell) to discharge an electric impulse.
Verb phrases
fire away, Informal. to begin to talk and continue without slackening, as to ask a series of questions:
The reporters fired away at the president.
fire off,
  1. to discharge (as weapons, ammunition, etc.):
    Police fired off canisters of tear gas.
  2. to write and send hurriedly:
    She fired off an angry letter to her congressman.
between two fires, under physical or verbal attack from two or more sides simultaneously:
The senator is between two fires because of his stand on the bill.
build a fire under, Informal. to cause or urge to take action, make a decision quickly, or work faster:
If somebody doesn't build a fire under that committee, it will never reach a decision.
catch fire,
  1. Also, catch on fire. to become ignited; burn:
    The sofa caught fire from a lighted cigarette.
  2. to create enthusiasm:
    His new book did not catch fire among his followers.
fight fire with fire, to use the same tactics as one's opponent; return like for like.
go through fire and water, to brave any danger or endure any trial:
He said he would go through fire and water to win her hand.
hang fire,
  1. to be delayed in exploding, or fail to explode.
  2. to be undecided, postponed, or delayed:
    The new housing project is hanging fire because of concerted opposition.
miss fire,
  1. to fail to explode or discharge, as a firearm.
  2. to fail to produce the desired effect; be unsuccessful:
    He repeated the joke, but it missed fire the second time.
on fire,
  1. ignited; burning; afire.
  2. eager; ardent; zealous:
    They were on fire to prove themselves in competition.
play with fire, to trifle with a serious or dangerous matter:
He didn't realize that insulting the border guards was playing with fire.
set fire to,
  1. to cause to burn; ignite.
  2. to excite; arouse; inflame:
    The painting set fire to the composer's imagination.
Also, set on fire.
take fire,
  1. to become ignited; burn.
  2. to become inspired with enthusiasm or zeal:
    Everyone who heard him speak immediately took fire.
under fire,
  1. under attack, especially by military forces.
  2. under censure or criticism:
    The school administration is under fire for its policies.
Origin of fire
before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English fȳr; cognate with Old Norse fūrr, German Feuer, Greek pŷr (see pyro-); (v.) Middle English firen to kindle, inflame, derivative of the noun
Related forms
firer, noun
counterfire, noun, verb (used without object), counterfired, counterfiring.
refire, verb, refired, refiring.
unfired, adjective
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for under fire
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All day under fire these men worked and toiled among the wounded.

    The Great Boer War Arthur Conan Doyle
  • He told Lena he would never forget how I had stood by him when he was 'under fire.'

    My Antonia Willa Cather
  • Our supply and ammunition columns were, therefore, under fire the moment they entered or passed by the city.

  • under fire, it had forded the Tulijan, shoulder-deep to the shorter men.

    Winning the Wilderness Margaret Hill McCarter
  • Sherman held the most critical position, and his troops had never been under fire before.

    Life of Wm. Tecumseh Sherman. W. Fletcher Johnson
British Dictionary definitions for under fire


the state of combustion in which inflammable material burns, producing heat, flames, and often smoke
  1. a mass of burning coal, wood, etc, used esp in a hearth to heat a room
  2. (in combination): firewood, firelighter
a destructive conflagration, as of a forest, building, etc
a device for heating a room, etc
something resembling a fire in light or brilliance: a diamond's fire
a flash or spark of or as if of fire
  1. the act of discharging weapons, artillery, etc
  2. the shells, etc, fired
a burst or rapid volley: a fire of questions
intense passion; ardour
liveliness, as of imagination, thought, etc
a burning sensation sometimes produced by drinking strong alcoholic liquor
fever and inflammation
a severe trial or torment (esp in the phrase go through fire and water)
catch fire, to ignite
draw someone's fire, to attract the criticism or censure of someone
hang fire
  1. to delay firing
  2. to delay or be delayed
no smoke without fire, the evidence strongly suggests something has indeed happened
on fire
  1. in a state of ignition
  2. ardent or eager
  3. (informal) playing or performing at the height of one's abilities
open fire, to start firing a gun, artillery, etc
play with fire, to be involved in something risky
(Brit) set fire to, set on fire
  1. to ignite
  2. to arouse or excite
(informal) set the world on fire, (Brit) set the Thames on fire, (Scot) set the heather on fire, to cause a great sensation
under fire, being attacked, as by weapons or by harsh criticism
(modifier) (astrology) of or relating to a group of three signs of the zodiac, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius Compare earth (sense 10), air (sense 20), water (sense 12)
to discharge (a firearm or projectile) or (of a firearm, etc) to be discharged
to detonate (an explosive charge or device) or (of such a charge or device) to be detonated
(transitive) (informal) to dismiss from employment
(transitive) (ceramics) to bake in a kiln to harden the clay, fix the glaze, etc
to kindle or be kindled; ignite
(transitive) to provide with fuel: oil fires the heating system
(intransitive) to tend a fire
(transitive) to subject to heat
(transitive) to heat slowly so as to dry
(transitive) to arouse to strong emotion
to glow or cause to glow
(intransitive) (of an internal-combustion engine) to ignite
(intransitive) (of grain) to become blotchy or yellow before maturity
(vet science) another word for cauterize
(intransitive) (Austral, informal) (of a sportsman, etc) to play well or with enthusiasm
sentence substitute
a cry to warn others of a fire
the order to begin firing a gun, artillery, etc
Derived Forms
fireable, adjective
fireless, adjective
firer, noun
Word Origin
Old English fӯr; related to Old Saxon fiur, Old Norse fūrr, Old High German fūir, Greek pur
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for under fire



Old English fyr, from Proto-Germanic *fuir (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian fiur, Old Norse fürr, Middle Dutch and Dutch vuur, Old High German fiur, German Feuer), from PIE *perjos, from root *paewr- (cf. Armenian hur "fire, torch," Czech pyr "hot ashes," Greek pyr, Umbrian pir, Sanskrit pu, Hittite pahhur "fire").

Current spelling is attested as early as 1200, but did not fully displace Middle English fier (preserved in fiery) until c.1600.

PIE apparently had two roots for fire: *paewr- and *egni- (cf. Latin ignis). The former was "inanimate," referring to fire as a substance, and the latter was "animate," referring to it as a living force (see water).

Fire applied in English to passions, feelings, from mid-14c. Meaning "action of guns, etc." is from 1580s. Firecracker is American English coinage for what is in England just cracker, but the U.S. word distinguishes it from the word meaning "biscuit." Fire-engine attested from 1680s. The figurative expression play with fire "risk disaster" is from 1887; phrase where's the fire? "what's the hurry?" first recorded 1924.


c.1200, furen, figurative, "arouse, excite;" literal sense of "set fire to" is from late 14c., from fire (n.). The Old English verb fyrian "to supply with fire" apparently did not survive into Middle English.

The sense of "sack, dismiss" is first recorded 1885 in American English (earlier "throw (someone) out" of some place, 1871), probably from a play on the two meanings of discharge: "to dismiss from a position," and "to fire a gun," fire in the second sense being from "set fire to gunpowder," attested from 1520s. Of bricks, pottery, etc., from 1660s. Related: Fired; firing. Fired up "angry" is from 1824. Firing squad is attested from 1904.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
under fire in Medicine

fire (fīr)
v. fired, fir·ing, fires
To generate an electrical impulse. Used of a neuron.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for under fire



  1. To discharge someone from a job; dismiss, usually with prejudice; can, sack (1887+)
  2. To throw something with great force: The big left-hander fired a fastball down the middle (1910+)
  3. To ask or utter with bluntness and vehemence: The panel fired questions at me and I soon wilted (1850s+)

Related Terms

ball of fire, hold someone's feet to the fire, on the fire, pull something out of the fire, sure-fire

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
under fire in the Bible

(1.) For sacred purposes. The sacrifices were consumed by fire (Gen. 8:20). The ever-burning fire on the altar was first kindled from heaven (Lev. 6:9, 13; 9:24), and afterwards rekindled at the dedication of Solomon's temple (2 Chr. 7:1, 3). The expressions "fire from heaven" and "fire of the Lord" generally denote lightning, but sometimes also the fire of the altar was so called (Ex. 29:18; Lev. 1:9; 2:3; 3:5, 9). Fire for a sacred purpose obtained otherwise than from the altar was called "strange fire" (Lev. 10:1, 2; Num. 3:4). The victims slain for sin offerings were afterwards consumed by fire outside the camp (Lev. 4:12, 21; 6:30; 16:27; Heb. 13:11). (2.) For domestic purposes, such as baking, cooking, warmth, etc. (Jer. 36:22; Mark 14:54; John 18:18). But on Sabbath no fire for any domestic purpose was to be kindled (Ex. 35:3; Num. 15:32-36). (3.) Punishment of death by fire was inflicted on such as were guilty of certain forms of unchastity and incest (Lev. 20:14; 21:9). The burning of captives in war was not unknown among the Jews (2 Sam. 12:31; Jer. 29:22). The bodies of infamous persons who were executed were also sometimes burned (Josh. 7:25; 2 Kings 23:16). (4.) In war, fire was used in the destruction of cities, as Jericho (Josh. 6:24), Ai (8:19), Hazor (11:11), Laish (Judg. 18:27), etc. The war-chariots of the Canaanites were burnt (Josh. 11:6, 9, 13). The Israelites burned the images (2 Kings 10:26; R.V., "pillars") of the house of Baal. These objects of worship seem to have been of the nature of obelisks, and were sometimes evidently made of wood. Torches were sometimes carried by the soldiers in battle (Judg. 7:16). (5.) Figuratively, fire is a symbol of Jehovah's presence and the instrument of his power (Ex. 14:19; Num. 11:1, 3; Judg. 13:20; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10, 12; 2:11; Isa. 6:4; Ezek. 1:4; Rev. 1:14, etc.). God's word is also likened unto fire (Jer. 23:29). It is referred to as an emblem of severe trials or misfortunes (Zech. 12:6; Luke 12:49; 1 Cor. 3:13, 15; 1 Pet. 1:7), and of eternal punishment (Matt. 5:22; Mark 9:44; Rev. 14:10; 21:8). The influence of the Holy Ghost is likened unto fire (Matt. 3:11). His descent was denoted by the appearance of tongues as of fire (Acts 2:3).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with under fire

under fire

Criticized or held responsible, as in The landlord is under fire for not repairing the roof. This expression originally referred to being within range of enemy guns; its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for fire

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for under

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for under fire