[ fahyuhr ]
See synonyms for: firefiredfiring on

  1. 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.

  2. a burning mass of material, as on a hearth or in a furnace.

  1. the destructive burning of a building, town, forest, etc.; conflagration.

  2. heat used for cooking, especially the lighted burner of a stove: Put the kettle on the fire.

  3. flashing light; luminous appearance.

  4. brilliance, as of a gem.

  5. burning passion; excitement or enthusiasm; ardor.

  6. liveliness of imagination.

  7. fever or inflammation.

  8. severe trial or trouble; ordeal.

  9. exposure to fire as a means of torture or ordeal.

  10. strength, as of an alcoholic beverage.

  11. a spark or sparks.

  12. the discharge of firearms: enemy fire.

  13. the effect of firing military weapons: to pour fire upon the enemy.

  14. British. a gas or electric heater used for heating a room.

  15. Literary. a luminous object, as a star: heavenly fires.

verb (used with object),fired, fir·ing.
  1. to set on fire.

  2. to supply with fuel or attend to the fire of (often followed by up):They fired the boiler.

  1. to expose to the action of fire; subject to heat.

  2. to apply heat to in a kiln for baking or glazing; burn.

  3. to heat very slowly for the purpose of drying, as tea.

  4. to inflame, as with passion; fill with ardor (often followed by up).

  5. to inspire.

  6. to light or cause to glow as if on fire.

  7. to discharge (a gun).

  8. to project (a bullet or the like) by or as if by discharging from a gun.

  9. to subject to explosion or explosive force, as a mine.

  10. to cause (a device, machine, etc.) to start working (usually followed by up): I just fired up my new laptop.

  11. to hurl; throw: to fire a stone through a window.

  12. to dismiss from a job.

  13. 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.

  14. to drive out or away by or as by fire.

verb (used without object),fired, fir·ing.
  1. to take fire; be kindled.

  2. to glow as if on fire.

  1. to become inflamed with passion; become excited.

  2. to shoot, as a gun.

  3. to discharge a gun: to fire at a fleeing enemy.

  4. to hurl a projectile.

  5. Music. to ring the bells of a chime all at once.

  6. (of plant leaves) to turn yellow or brown before the plant matures.

  7. (of an internal-combustion engine) to cause ignition of the air-fuel mixture in a cylinder or cylinders.

  8. (of a nerve cell) to discharge an electric impulse.

  1. Slang. cool, excellent, exciting, etc.: It would be so fire if we won those tickets!

Verb Phrases
  1. 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.

  2. fire off,

    • 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.

Idioms about fire

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  1. catch fire, to create enthusiasm: His new book did not catch fire among his followers.

  2. catch (on) fire, to become ignited; burn: The sofa caught fire from a lighted cigarette.The movie set nearly caught on fire when a fire-related special effect went out of control.

  3. fight fire with fire, to use the same tactics as one's opponent; return like for like.

  4. 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.

  5. hang fire,

    • 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.

  6. miss fire,

    • 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.

  7. on fire,

    • ignited; burning; afire.

    • eager; ardent; zealous: They were on fire to prove themselves in competition.

  8. play with fire, to trifle with a serious or dangerous matter: He didn't realize that insulting the border guards was playing with fire.

  9. set fire to, : Also set on fire.

    • to cause to burn; ignite.

    • to excite; arouse; inflame: The painting set fire to the composer's imagination.

  10. take fire,

    • to become ignited; burn.

    • to become inspired with enthusiasm or zeal: Everyone who heard him speak immediately took fire.

  11. under fire,

    • under attack, especially by military forces.

    • under censure or criticism: The school administration is under fire for its policies.

Origin of fire

First recorded before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English fȳr; cognate with Old Norse fūrr, German Feuer, Greek pŷr (see pyro-); (verb) Middle English firen “to kindle, inflame,” derivative of the noun; see igneous

Other words from fire

  • firer, noun
  • coun·ter·fire, noun, verb (used without object), coun·ter·fired, coun·ter·fir·ing.
  • re·fire, verb, re·fired, re·fir·ing.
  • un·fired, adjective

Words Nearby fire Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fire in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fire


/ (faɪə) /

  1. the state of combustion in which inflammable material burns, producing heat, flames, and often smoke

    • a mass of burning coal, wood, etc, used esp in a hearth to heat a room

    • (in combination): firewood; firelighter

  1. a destructive conflagration, as of a forest, building, etc

  2. a device for heating a room, etc

  3. something resembling a fire in light or brilliance: a diamond's fire

  4. a flash or spark of or as if of fire

    • the act of discharging weapons, artillery, etc

    • the shells, etc, fired

  5. a burst or rapid volley: a fire of questions

  6. intense passion; ardour

  7. liveliness, as of imagination, thought, etc

  8. a burning sensation sometimes produced by drinking strong alcoholic liquor

  9. fever and inflammation

  10. a severe trial or torment (esp in the phrase go through fire and water)

  11. catch fire to ignite

  12. draw someone's fire to attract the criticism or censure of someone

  13. hang fire

    • to delay firing

    • to delay or be delayed

  14. no smoke without fire the evidence strongly suggests something has indeed happened

  15. on fire

    • in a state of ignition

    • ardent or eager

    • informal playing or performing at the height of one's abilities

  16. open fire to start firing a gun, artillery, etc

  17. play with fire to be involved in something risky

  18. set fire to or set on fire British

    • to ignite

    • to arouse or excite

  19. set the world on fire, British set the Thames on fire or Scot set the heather on fire informal to cause a great sensation

  20. under fire being attacked, as by weapons or by harsh criticism

  21. (modifier) astrology of or relating to a group of three signs of the zodiac, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius: Compare earth (def. 10), air (def. 20), water (def. 12)

  1. to discharge (a firearm or projectile) or (of a firearm, etc) to be discharged

  2. to detonate (an explosive charge or device) or (of such a charge or device) to be detonated

  1. (tr) informal to dismiss from employment

  2. (tr) ceramics to bake in a kiln to harden the clay, fix the glaze, etc

  3. to kindle or be kindled; ignite

  4. (tr) to provide with fuel: oil fires the heating system

  5. (intr) to tend a fire

  6. (tr) to subject to heat

  7. (tr) to heat slowly so as to dry

  8. (tr) to arouse to strong emotion

  9. to glow or cause to glow

  10. (intr) (of an internal-combustion engine) to ignite

  11. (intr) (of grain) to become blotchy or yellow before maturity

  12. vet science another word for cauterize

  13. (intr) Australian informal (of a sportsman, etc) to play well or with enthusiasm

sentence substitute
  1. a cry to warn others of a fire

  2. the order to begin firing a gun, artillery, etc

Origin of fire

Old English fӯr; related to Old Saxon fiur, Old Norse fūrr, Old High German fūir, Greek pur

Derived forms of fire

  • fireable, adjective
  • fireless, adjective
  • firer, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with fire


In addition to the idioms beginning with fire

  • fire away
  • fire off
  • fire on all cylinders
  • fire up

also see:

  • 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.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.