Meaning of FIRE in English

I. fire 1 S1 W1 /faɪə $ faɪr/ BrE AmE noun

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: fyr ]

1 . FLAMES THAT DESTROY THINGS [uncountable and countable] uncontrolled flames, light, and heat that destroy and damage things:

The warehouse was completely destroyed by fire.

Thirty people died in a fire in downtown Chicago.

Police think that the fire was started deliberately.

Rioters set fire to a whole row of stores (=made them start burning) .

2 . FLAMES FOR HEATING/COOKING ETC [countable] burning material used to heat a room, cook food etc, or get rid of things you do not want:

You put up the tent and I’ll make a fire.

Can you help me light the fire?

The fire has almost gone out (=stopped burning) .

They all sat around the camp fire, singing songs.

The fire was still smouldering in the grate (=there was a little smoke and it had almost stopped burning) .

by the fire/in front of the fire

Come and sit by the fire.

They dried their clothes in front of an open fire.

3 . HEATING EQUIPMENT [countable] British English a machine that produces heat to warm a room, using gas or electricity as power:

a gas fire

an electric fire

turn the fire on/off

Turn on the fire, I’m cold.

turn the fire up/down (=make it hotter or colder)

4 . SHOOTING [uncountable] shots fired from a gun, especially many guns at the same time:

Troops opened fire on (=started shooting at) the demonstrators.

These women did vital work, often under enemy fire.

The rebels agreed to hold their fire (=not shoot) .

⇨ be in the line of fire at ↑ line 1 (35)

5 . BE ATTACKED be/come under fire

a) to be severely criticized for something you have done – used in news reports:

Rail chiefs came under fire after raising train fares.

b) to be shot at

be/come under fire from

Our patrol came under fire from rooftop gunmen.

6 . EMOTION [uncountable] a very strong emotion that makes you want to think about nothing else

fire of

the fire of religious fanaticism

7 . fire in your belly a strong desire to achieve something:

Ali returned to boxing with a new fire in his belly.

8 . SICK/INJURED be on fire literary a part of your body that is on fire feels very painful

9 . light a fire under somebody American English spoken to do something that makes someone who is being lazy start doing their work

10 . go through fire (and water) (for somebody) old-fashioned to do something very difficult and dangerous for someone

11 . fire and brimstone a phrase describing Hell, used by some religious people

⇨ ↑ ceasefire , ⇨ add fuel to the fire/flames at ↑ add (9), ⇨ fight fire with fire at ↑ fight 1 (18), ⇨ get on like a house on fire at ↑ house 1 (13), ⇨ hang fire at ↑ hang 1 (12), ⇨ play with fire at ↑ play 1 (26), ⇨ set the world on fire at ↑ world 1 (22), ⇨ there’s no smoke without fire at ↑ smoke 1 (5)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ start a fire

The fire may have been started by a cigarette.

▪ set fire to something/set something on fire (=make something start burning)

A candle fell over, setting fire to the curtains.

▪ something catches fire (=it starts burning)

The boat caught fire and sank.

▪ put out a fire ( also extinguish a fire formal ) (=stop a fire burning)

Firemen successfully extinguished the fire.

▪ fight a fire (=try to make a fire stop burning)

Further attempts to fight the fire were abandoned.

▪ a fire burns

The fire was burning more strongly every minute.

▪ a fire breaks out (=it starts suddenly)

A fire broke out in the engine room.

▪ a fire goes out (=it stops burning)

After several hours, the fire eventually went out.

▪ a fire rages/blazes (=it burns strongly for a long time over a large area)

Fires were raging in the forest near Magleby.

▪ a fire spreads

The fire spread to the house next door.

▪ something is damaged/destroyed by fire

The school was badly damaged by fire.

■ phrases

▪ be on fire (=be burning)

The whole house was on fire within minutes.

▪ bring a fire under control

Firefighters took more than an hour to bring the fire under control.


▪ a big/major fire

A big fire was raging at the fuel depot.

▪ a forest fire (=a very large fire in a forest)

Greece has suffered many forest fires this year.

▪ a brush fire (=a very large fire in an area of grass)

There were frequent brush fires during the hot dry summers.

▪ a house fire (=a fire that starts inside a house)

Faulty electrical wiring is being blamed for a house fire.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ make/build a fire

He found wood to make a fire.

▪ start/light a fire

It was too damp to light a fire.

▪ put something on the fire

Put another log on the fire.

▪ cook something over a fire

They cooked strips of meat over a wood fire.

▪ a fire smoulders (=a little smoke comes from a fire when it has almost gone out)

The fire was smouldering in the grate.

▪ a fire dies down (=it burns less strongly)

The fire slowly died down.


▪ an open fire (=a fire in a room that is not inside a stove etc)

Sophie warmed herself by the open fire.

▪ a roaring fire (=a fire that is burning strongly)

I sat by the roaring fire and dried off.

▪ a camp fire (=a fire that you make outside when you are camping)

In the evening we sat around the camp fire.

▪ a coal/wood/log fire

There was a coal fire in the sitting room.

▪ a gas fire

She lit the gas fire and settled in front of the TV.

▪ a real fire (=one that burns wood or coal)

There was a real fire blazing in the fireplace.

■ phrases

▪ the embers of a fire (=pieces of wood, coal etc that have almost been completely burned)

He stared at the glowing embers of the fire.

• • •


▪ fire flames that burn in an uncontrolled way and destroy or damage things:

In April, a fire at the school destroyed the science block.


a forest fire

▪ flames the bright parts of a fire that you see burning in the air:

The flames from the burning building were lighting up the night sky.

▪ blaze written a large and dangerous fire – used especially in news reports:

Firemen fought to keep the blaze under control.

▪ inferno written an extremely large and dangerous fire which is out of control – used especially in news reports:

The entire building was on fire and hundreds of people were trapped in the inferno.

▪ conflagration /ˌkɒnfləˈɡreɪʃ ə n $ ˌkɑːn-/ formal a very large fire that destroys a lot of buildings, trees etc:

The conflagration spread rapidly through the old town.

II. fire 2 S3 W3 BrE AmE verb

1 . SHOOT [intransitive and transitive] to shoot bullets or bombs

fire at/on/into

Soldiers fired on the crowd.

fire something at somebody

The police fired two shots at the suspects before they surrendered.

fire a gun/weapon/rifle etc (=make it shoot)

the sound of a gun being fired

fire bullets/missiles/rockets etc

Guerrillas fired five rockets at the capital yesterday, killing 23 people.

2 . JOB [transitive] to force someone to leave their job SYN sack British English

be/get fired

She didn’t want to get fired.

fire somebody from something

I’ve just been fired from my job, and I don’t know what to do.

fire somebody for something

The airline fired him for being drunk.


In written English, people usually say that someone is dismissed rather than fired , which is slightly informal:

He was dismissed for being drunk.

3 . EXCITE [transitive] to make someone feel interested in something and excited about it SYN inspire

be fired with enthusiasm

I was fired with enthusiasm to go traveling in Asia.

fire sb’s enthusiasm/imagination

stories of magic and adventure that fire children’s imaginations

4 . QUESTIONS fire questions at somebody to ask someone a lot of questions quickly, often in order to criticize them

5 . wood-fired/gas-fired/coal-fired using wood, gas, or coal as ↑ fuel :

a gas-fired stove

a coal-fired boiler

6 . CLAY [transitive] to bake bricks, clay pots etc in a ↑ kiln :

fired earthenware

7 . ENGINE [intransitive] if a vehicle’s engine fires, the petrol is lit to make the engine work

8 . be firing on all cylinders informal to be thinking or doing something well, using all your mental abilities and energy:

When the team’s firing on all cylinders, they can beat the best in the league.

• • •


▪ fire ( also dismiss formal ) to make someone leave their job, especially because they have done something wrong:

He was fired for surfing the Internet during work time.


Harris was caught stealing, and was dismissed from his job.

▪ sack/give somebody the sack British English informal to make someone leave their job, especially because they are not good at it, or because they have done something wrong:

Bates was sacked from his job after the team failed to win any games.


His boss gave him the sack for taking too much time off work.

▪ lay somebody off to make a lot of workers, especially workers in a large factory or organization, leave their jobs, because there is not enough work for them to do, or not enough money to pay their wages:

3000 car workers have been laid off at the factory in Cleveland.

▪ make somebody redundant British English to make someone leave their job because they are no longer needed:

5 staff will be made redundant at the end of this month.

▪ let somebody go to make someone leave their job, Used by employers to avoid saying directly that they are getting rid of people:

We’ve had to let two members of staff go.

▪ discharge to make someone leave their job in the army, air force etc:

Grant had been discharged from the navy for threatening an officer.

▪ ease somebody out to make someone leave their job in a way that makes it seem as if they have chosen to leave:

He had been eased out of office in an attempt to prevent a political crisis.

▪ relieve somebody of their post/position formal to make someone leave their job because they have done something wrong. Used especially to avoid saying this directly, and also when the job is a powerful one:

The colonel and two other senior officers were relieved of their posts.

fire away phrasal verb

[only in imperative] spoken used to tell someone that you are ready to answer questions:

‘Do you mind if I ask you something, Woody?’ ‘Fire away.’

fire back phrasal verb

to quickly and angrily answer a question or remark

fire back at

President Bush has fired back at his critics.

fire something ↔ off phrasal verb

1 . to shoot a bullet, bomb etc into the air:

Chuck reloaded and fired off both barrels.

Mexicans have a tradition of firing off guns to welcome in the new year.

2 . to quickly send an angry letter to someone:

I fired off a furious letter to the editor.

fire somebody ↔ up phrasal verb [usually passive]

to make someone become very excited, interested, or angry:

It was alarming the way she got so fired up about small things.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.