[verb mis-fiuh r; noun mis-fahyuh r]

verb (used without object), mis·fired, mis·fir·ing.

(of a rifle or gun or of a bullet or shell) to fail to fire or explode.
(of an internal-combustion engine) to fail to ignite properly or when expected.
to fail to achieve the desired result, effect, etc.: His criticisms completely misfired.


an act or instance of misfiring.

Origin of misfire

First recorded in 1745–55; mis-1 + fire
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for misfire

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

Examples from the Web for misfire

Contemporary Examples of misfire

Historical Examples of misfire

  • 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)

(of a firearm or its projectile) to fail to fire, explode, or ignite as or when expected
(of a motor engine or vehicle, etc) to fail to fire at the appropriate time, often causing a backfire
to fail to operate or occur as intended


the act or an instance of misfiring
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper