• synonyms


[verb mis-fiuh r; noun mis-fahyuh r]
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verb (used without object), mis·fired, mis·fir·ing.
  1. (of a rifle or gun or of a bullet or shell) to fail to fire or explode.
  2. (of an internal-combustion engine) to fail to ignite properly or when expected.
  3. to fail to achieve the desired result, effect, etc.: His criticisms completely misfired.
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  1. an act or instance of misfiring.
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Origin of misfire

First recorded in 1745–55; mis-1 + fire
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

flop, fizzle, backfire, blunder, explode, flounder, abort, slip, miscarry, miss

Examples from the Web for misfire

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The unexpectedness of this misfire positively overcame his faculties.


    Joseph Conrad

  • He tried again, in case it was just a misfire, but there was still only the click.


    Harry Harrison

  • "Misfire threw him off," exclaimed the spectators afterward.

    The Adventures of Bobby Orde

    Stewart Edward White

  • Simultaneously one cylinder starts to misfire, and then another.

  • From the position of the check-lever you realise that there has been a misfire.

British Dictionary definitions for misfire


verb (intr)
  1. (of a firearm or its projectile) to fail to fire, explode, or ignite as or when expected
  2. (of a motor engine or vehicle, etc) to fail to fire at the appropriate time, often causing a backfire
  3. to fail to operate or occur as intended
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  1. the act or an instance of misfiring
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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 misfire


1752, of a gun, 1905, of an internal combustion engine; see mis- (1) + fire (v.). Related: Misfired; misfiring. The noun is attested from 1839.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper