n. & v.
n. 1 a the state or process of combustion, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and usu. give out bright light and heat. b the active principle operative in this. c flame or incandescence. 2 a conflagration, a destructive burning (forest fire). 3 a burning fuel in a grate, furnace, etc. b = electric fire. c = gas fire. 4 firing of guns. 5 a fervour, spirit, vivacity. b poetic inspiration, lively imagination. c vehement emotion. 6 burning heat, fever. 7 luminosity, glow (St Elmo's fire).
v. 1 a tr. discharge (a gun etc.). b tr. propel (a missile) from a gun etc. c intr. (often foll. by at, into, on) fire a gun or missile. d tr. produce (a broadside, salute, etc.) by discharge of guns. e intr. (of a gun etc.) be discharged. 2 tr. cause (explosive) to explode. 3 tr. deliver or utter in rapid succession (fired insults at us). 4 tr. sl. dismiss (an employee) from a job. 5 tr. a set fire to with the intention of destroying. b kindle (explosives). 6 intr. catch fire. 7 intr. (of an internal-combustion engine, or a cylinder in one) undergo ignition of its fuel. 8 tr. supply (a furnace, engine, boiler, or power station) with fuel. 9 tr. a stimulate (the imagination). b fill (a person) with enthusiasm. 10 tr. a bake or dry (pottery, bricks, etc.). b cure (tea or tobacco) by artificial heat. 11 intr. become heated or excited. 12 tr. cause to glow or redden. catch fire begin to burn. fire-alarm a device for giving warning of fire. fire and brimstone the supposed torments of hell. fire away colloq. begin; go ahead. fire-ball 1 a large meteor. 2 a ball of flame, esp. from a nuclear explosion. 3 an energetic person. 4 ball lightning. 5 Mil. hist. a ball filled with combustibles. fire-balloon a balloon made buoyant by the heat of a fire burning at its mouth. fire-blight a disease of plants, esp. hops and fruit trees, causing a scorched appearance. fire-bomb an incendiary bomb. fire-break an obstacle to the spread of fire in a forest etc., esp. an open space. fire-brick a fireproof brick used in a grate. fire brigade esp. Brit. an organized body of firemen trained and employed to extinguish fires. fire-bug colloq. a pyromaniac. fire company 1 = fire brigade. 2 a fire-insurance company. fire-control a system of regulating the fire of a ship's or a fort's guns. fire department US = fire brigade. fire door a fire-resistant door to prevent the spread of fire. fire-drake (in Germanic mythology) a fiery dragon. fire-drill 1 a rehearsal of the procedures to be used in case of fire. 2 a primitive device for kindling fire with a stick and wood. fire-eater 1 a conjuror who appears to swallow fire. 2 a person fond of quarrelling or fighting. fire-engine a vehicle carrying equipment for fighting large fires. fire-escape an emergency staircase or apparatus for escape from a building on fire. fire extinguisher an apparatus with a jet for discharging liquid chemicals, water, or foam to extinguish a fire. fire-fighter a person whose task is to extinguish fires. fire-guard 1 a protective screen or grid placed in front of a fireplace. 2 US a fire-watcher. 3 US a fire-break. fire-hose a hose-pipe used in extinguishing fires. fire-irons tongs, poker, and shovel, for tending a domestic fire. fire-lighter Brit. a piece of inflammable material to help start a fire in a grate. fire-office a fire-insurance company. fire-opal girasol. fire-plug a hydrant for a fire-hose. fire-power 1 the destructive capacity of guns etc. 2 financial, intellectual, or emotional strength. fire-practice a fire-drill. fire-raiser Brit. an arsonist. fire-raising Brit. arson. fire-screen 1 a screen to keep off the direct heat of a fire. 2 a fire-guard. 3 an ornamental screen for a fireplace. fire-ship hist. a ship loaded with combustibles and sent adrift to ignite an enemy's ships etc. fire station the headquarters of a fire brigade. fire-step = firing-step. fire-stone stone that resists fire, used for furnaces etc. fire-storm a high wind or storm following a fire caused by bombs. fire-tongs tongs for picking up pieces of coal etc. in tending a fire. fire-trap a building without proper provision for escape in case of fire. fire up show sudden anger. fire-walking the (often ceremonial) practice of walking barefoot over white-hot stones, wood-ashes, etc. fire warden US a person employed to prevent or extinguish fires. fire-watcher a person keeping watch for fires, esp. those caused by bombs. fire-water colloq. strong alcoholic liquor. go on fire Sc. & Ir. catch fire. go through fire and water face all perils. on fire 1 burning. 2 excited. set fire to (or set on fire) ignite, kindle, cause to burn. set the world (or Thames) on fire do something remarkable or sensational. take fire catch fire. under fire 1 being shot at. 2 being rigorously criticized or questioned. fireless adj. firer n.
[ OE fyr, fyrian, f. WG ]