- a fire in an area of bushes, shrubs, or brush, as distinct from a forest fire.
- 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
- limited in scope, area, or importance, as some labor disputes or local skirmishes.
Origin of brush-fire
First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for brushfire
A couple of factors, both internal and environmental, are at play when such rapacious violence spreads like a brushfire.You, Too, Could Be a Homicidal Zealot
July 7, 2014
They had existed beside us, beneath us rather, flaring up like brushfire since the first humanoids left the trees.The Extinction Parade: An Original Zombie Story by Max Brooks
January 14, 2011
- a fire in bushes and scrub
- 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
Word Origin and History for brushfire
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper