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brush fire

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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.
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Origin of brush fire

An Americanism dating back to 1770–80

brush-fire

or brush·fire

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

First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for brushfire

brush fire

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

n.

1850, from brush (n.2) + fire (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper