- 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
- 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
OTHER WORDS FROM firefirer, nouncoun·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
MORE ABOUT FIRE
What is fire?
Fire is what happens when a material is ignited and combined with oxygen, resulting in combustion. This results in light, heat, and a visible effect that usually appears as orange or yellow flames.
Fire typically requires three ingredients: heat, fuel (something to burn), and oxygen.
Fire is hard to describe since it’s different from the solid, liquid, and gaseous states of matter we’re used to observing (fire is usually a mixture of hot gases, but sometimes it’s a plasma, depending on what’s burning). But you know it when you see it: if you’ve ever lit a match or candle or burned wood in a fireplace, you’ve created fire.
We describe an instance of fire as a fire, as in a fire in the fireplace or a house fire.
If something is burning or consumed by fire, we say it is on fire, as in The stove is on fire.
Fire can also be used metaphorically, such as to refer to intensity or extreme passion, as in The fire in my heart. It’s also commonly used in many idioms and expressions (such as fight fire with fire and playing with fire), and, more recently, as a slang term meaning awesome (as in Those shoes are fire).
As a verb, fire commonly means to discharge a gun or to dismiss someone from a job.
Fire has many other, more specific meanings as both a noun and a verb, and most of them are related in some way to literal fire.
Example: The boss fired Dave after he fired a starter pistol inside the office, causing the ceiling to catch on fire.
Where does fire come from?
The first records of the word fire come from before 900. As a noun, it comes from the Old English fȳr. Fire is related to the Old Norse fūrr and German Feuer, which come from the Greek pŷr (the origin of the word part pyro-, as in pyrotechnics, and the word pyre, as in funeral pyre). As a verb, fire comes from the Middle English firen, which was derived from the noun and means “to kindle or inflame.”
Fire has fascinated humans for as long as we have known about it. At one time, fire was thought to be one of the four substances (the others being earth, air, and water) that made up everything in the universe. It has been used for cooking, warmth, and other practical uses for at least hundreds of thousands of years.
We often specify types of fires by what is on fire, such as house fire and forest fire, or what has caused or is fueling the fire, as in grease fire. Things that involve preventing or putting out fires or fire safety typically have the word in their name, such as in firefighter, fire department, fire truck, fire extinguisher, fire escape, and fire drill.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to fire?
- firer (noun)
- counterfire (noun, verb)
- refire (verb)
- unfired (adjective)
What are some synonyms for fire?
What are some words that share a root or word element with fire?
What are some words that often get used in discussing fire?
How is fire used in real life?
The word fire is very commonly used, particularly in its literal sense.
At the site of the North Complex Fire today, Governor @GavinNewsom signed @AsmReyes47's #AB2147 eliminating barriers that prevent former inmate fire crews from pursuing a career as a firefighter once they served their time. #CaliforniaForAll pic.twitter.com/tT3D18UJWK
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) September 11, 2020
I have been affected by fires in the Central Coast. Ash still rains down on us. Friends & family across CA are affected. My family & friends in OR are affected; some homes are still at risk. Friends & family in WA are affected. The fires are everywhere.
— heather lyons (@_heatherlyons) September 11, 2020
Perhaps she is telling you people to clean up dead trees and brush to remove fuel so fires don't get so bad.
— JIM KOONTZ (@JIMKOONTZ4) September 11, 2020
Try using fire!
Which of the following things is NOT one of the three ingredients typically required for a fire?
C. water vapor
How to use fire in a sentence
The Honeywell Safe line makes a variety of fire and waterproof lockable storage cabinets, each one made to stand extreme conditions.Great filing cabinets for your home office|PopSci Commerce Team|September 17, 2020|Popular-Science
The tragic 2018 mudslide in Montecito, California is just one example of a post-fire flood.California wildfires may give way to massive mudslides|Ula Chrobak|September 17, 2020|Popular-Science
The strong winds and low humidity will continue to feed the fires, particularly in the northeast part of the blaze.West Coast wildfire smoke is visible from outer space|María Paula Rubiano A.|September 16, 2020|Popular-Science
In an overnight filing, Apple said “Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this court for emergency assistance in putting it out.”Apple says Epic is acting as ‘a saboteur, not a martyr’ in app store challenge|radmarya|September 16, 2020|Fortune
Make a fireThough it’s engineered to reduce exterior friction, paracord can still make a suitable bow string for the bow and drill fire-starting method.This essential survival tool can save your life 10 different ways|By Tim MacWelch/Outdoor Life|September 15, 2020|Popular-Science
But what is there more irresponsible than playing with the fire of an imagined civil war in the France of today?Houellebecq’s Incendiary Novel Imagines France With a Muslim President|Pierre Assouline|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
The cameraman was reporting on the factory catching fire when the inevitable happened.Fireworks Factory Explodes in Colorful Burst|The Daily Beast Video|January 6, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Lady Edith is so sad that her sadness nearly set the whole damned house on fire.‘Downton Abbey’ Review: A Fire, Some Sex, and Sad, Sad Edith|Kevin Fallon|January 5, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Maybe Mary is being more realistic about a second marriage—but is it too much to ask for a little fire?What Downton’s Fashion Really Means|Katie Baker|January 2, 2015|DAILY BEAST
A fire that he insists is only picking up pace, according to top-secret intelligence briefings.ISIS Fight Has a Spy Shortage, Intel Chair Says|Kimberly Dozier|January 2, 2015|DAILY BEAST
"A camp-fire would hardly flash and die out like that, Sarge," he answered thoughtfully.
She got up and stood in front of the fire, having her hand on the chimney-piece and looking down at the blaze.Confidence|Henry James
The fire had been heaped over with earth—to screen it from prying eyes, I suppose, while the good work went on.
But, as the keel of the boats touched bottom, each boat-load dashed into the water and then into the enemy's fire.Gallipoli Diary, Volume I|Ian Hamilton
The men, whose poniards his sword parried, had recourse to fire-arms, and two pistols were fired at him.The Pastor's Fire-side Vol. 3 of 4|Jane Porter
British Dictionary definitions for 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
- informal playing or performing at the height of one's abilities
- to ignite
- to arouse or excite
Derived forms of firefireable, adjectivefireless, adjectivefirer, noun
Word Origin for fire
Other Idioms and Phrases with fire
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.