Origin of firm

1300–50; < Latin firmus; replacing Middle English ferm < Middle French < Latin
Related formsfirm·ly, adverbfirm·ness, noun

Synonyms for firm

1. Firm, hard, solid, stiff are applied to substances that tend to retain their form unaltered in spite of pressure or force. Firm often implies that something has been brought from a yielding state to a fixed or elastic one: An increased amount of pectin makes jellies firm. Hard is applied to substances so resistant that it is difficult to make any impression upon their surface or to penetrate their interior: as hard as a stone. Solid is applied to substances that without external support retain their form and resist pressure: Water in the form of ice is solid. It sometimes denotes the opposite of hollow: a solid block of marble. Stiff implies rigidity that resists a bending force: as stiff as a poker. 2. fast, stable, immovable. 4. established, confirmed. 5. determined, immovable, staunch, reliable.

Antonyms for firm

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for firmer

Contemporary Examples of firmer

  • The collection initiative was suspended, while the government looked for ways to place it on a firmer legal foundation.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Obama Embraced NSA Spying

    Daniel Klaidman

    June 7, 2013

  • And our global leadership is on firmer footing than many predicted.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Hillary's Farewell Speech: Read the Transcript

    The Daily Beast

    February 1, 2013

  • I continue to believe that whenever we can codify something through legislation, it is on firmer ground.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Obama's Dodge on Executive Power

    Justin Green

    January 27, 2013

  • The result was a firmer texture that somehow kept its shape, rather than liquefying.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Home Ec at Harvard

    Laura Colarusso

    December 6, 2010

  • That is why it proposes holding off even modest restraint measures until the economy is on firmer ground.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Fiscal Death Spiral

    Edward Alden

    February 1, 2010

Historical Examples of firmer

  • I should have been firmer, and asked him to give it up before I married him.


    W. A. Fraser

  • I am firmer and more myself, just now, than I have been these many days.'

  • I trust they will be firmer in the field than I am in the saddle.'

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Hilary took a firmer grip on his automatic, nodded once to Grim.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Nothing could be firmer than the tone of this letter, in spite of its pensive gentleness.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

British Dictionary definitions for firmer




not soft or yielding to a touch or pressure; rigid; solid
securely in position; stable or stationary
definitely established; decided; settled
enduring or steady; constant
having determination or strength; resolute
(of prices, markets, etc) tending to rise


in a secure, stable, or unyielding mannerhe stood firm over his obligation to pay


(sometimes foll by up) to make or become firm
(intr) Australian horse racing (of a horse) to shorten in odds
Derived Formsfirmly, adverbfirmness, noun

Word Origin for firm

C14: from Latin firmus




a business partnership
any commercial enterprise
a team of doctors and their assistants
British slang
  1. a gang of criminals
  2. a gang of football hooligans

Word Origin for firm

C16 (in the sense: signature): from Spanish firma signature, title of a partnership or business concern, from firmar to sign, from Latin firmāre to confirm, from firmus firm
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 firmer



c.1300, fermen "make firm, establish," from Old French fermer (12c.) or directly from Latin firmare, from firmus (see firm (adj.)). Related: Firmed; firming.



late 14c., from Old French ferm (12c.) "firm, strong, vigorous, steadfast; loyal, faithful," from Latin firmus "firm, strong, steadfast, enduring, stable," from PIE root *dher- "to hold, support" (cf. Sanskrit dharmah "custom, law," Greek thronos "seat," Lithuanian dirzmas "strong," Welsh dir "hard," Breton dir "steel"). The return in late 1500s to -i- from Middle English ferme was modeled on Latin. Related: Firmly; firmness.



"business house," 1744, from German Firma "a business, name of a business," originally "signature," from Italian firma "signature," from firmare "to sign," from Latin firmare "make firm, affirm," in Late Latin, "confirm (by signature)," from firmus "firm, stable" (see firm (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper