n. & v.
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).
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.
Phrases and idioms:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. being shot at.
2 being rigorously criticized or questioned.
fireless adj. firer n.
Etymology: OE fyr, fyrian, f. WG