verb (used with object), fired, fir·ing.
verb (used without object), fired, fir·ing.
- to discharge (as weapons, ammunition, etc.): Police fired off canisters of tear gas.
- to write and send hurriedly: She fired off an angry letter to her congressman.
- Also catch on fire.to become ignited; burn: The sofa caught fire from a lighted cigarette.
- to create enthusiasm: His new book did not catch fire among his followers.
- to be delayed in exploding, or fail to explode.
- to be undecided, postponed, or delayed: The new housing project is hanging fire because of concerted opposition.
- to fail to explode or discharge, as a firearm.
- to fail to produce the desired effect; be unsuccessful: He repeated the joke, but it missed fire the second time.
- ignited; burning; afire.
- eager; ardent; zealous: They were on fire to prove themselves in competition.
- to cause to burn; ignite.
- to excite; arouse; inflame: The painting set fire to the composer's imagination.
- to become ignited; burn.
- to become inspired with enthusiasm or zeal: Everyone who heard him speak immediately took fire.
- under attack, especially by military forces.
- under censure or criticism: The school administration is under fire for its policies.
Origin of fire
- a mass of burning coal, wood, etc, used esp in a hearth to heat a room
- (in combination)firewood; firelighter
- the act of discharging weapons, artillery, etc
- the shells, etc, fired
- to delay firing
- to delay or be delayed
- in a state of ignition
- ardent or eager
- informalplaying or performing at the height of one's abilities
- to ignite
- to arouse or excite
Word Origin for fire
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.
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.
fight fire with fire
Combat an evil or negative circumstances by reacting in kind. For example, When the opposition began a smear campaign, we decided to fight fire with fire. Although ancient writers from Plato to Erasmus cautioned that one should not add fire to fire, this warning is not incorporated in the idiom, which was first recorded in Shakespeare's Coriolanus.
In addition to the idioms beginning with fire
- fire away
- fire off
- fire on all cylinders
- fire up
- add fuel to the fire
- ball of fire
- baptism of fire
- catch fire
- caught in the cross-fire
- draw fire
- fat is in the fire
- fight fire with fire
- get on (like a house afire)
- hang fire
- hold one's fire
- hold someone's feet to the fire
- irons in the fire
- light a fire under
- line of fire
- miss fire
- no smoke without fire
- on fire
- open fire
- out of the frying pan into the fire
- play with fire
- set on fire
- set the world on fire
- spread like wildfire
- trial by fire
- under fire
- where's the fire
Also see underfiring.