Definition of fire in English:



  • 1A process in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke; combustion or burning.

    ‘his house was destroyed by fire’
    • ‘When the kill had been made, Jimmy would light a small heather fire to make a smoke signal.’
    • ‘During a total Fire Ban, no fire of any kind may be lit in the open.’
    • ‘The different types of nozzles used to deal with different kinds of fire and smoke were also shown.’
    • ‘Suddenly a bright light, fire in fact, flared in front of her face, and a torch was lit.’
    • ‘As I tried to make my escape downhill, a cloud of smoke from another fire enveloped me.’
    • ‘In minutes, a small but bright fire sent a thick stream of black smoke skywards.’
    • ‘The drapes had been closed and the room was dark except for the flickering light of the dying fire.’
    • ‘There was no fire, and no trace that any fire had ever been lit there.’
    • ‘They are also warning of the danger of fire associated with cigarette smoking.’
    • ‘A large fire is usually burning, and many tall diving stories are told.’
    • ‘The important thing to remember, Mr Ridgway said, is that keeping a building protected from the perils of fire is an ongoing process.’
    • ‘It was already very late and the light from the fire was not bright enough to show all the features of Faith's face.’
    • ‘You are more likely to die from smoke inhalation than fire.’
    • ‘A fire door will prevent smoke and fire from spreading to other parts of the building.’
    • ‘He said sprinklers were effective on all fires and reduced the amount of damage caused by fire, smoke and water.’
    • ‘Away in the distance were fires where people were burning coal, and there would be a light from a forest fire.’
    • ‘Build small, hot fires for maximum burning of volatile gases and for fewer air quality and other safety problems.’
    • ‘Even at one in the morning, they did not flinch when a roaring explosion of fire and smoke lit the sky behind them.’
    1. 1.1[count noun]A destructive burning of something.
      ‘a fire at a hotel’
      • ‘With the fires still burning deep within the mangled wreckage, it may be months before the area is cleared by health and safety authorities.’
      • ‘Many destructive fires start during such times since potential fire hazards can go unnoticed in the relative darkness.’
      • ‘During the riots many small fires, including burning cars, were left to burn for long periods.’
      • ‘Those of you who have had fires know how destructive they can be.’
      • ‘One of the biggest and most destructive of those fires is bearing down on another resort town, Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County.’
      • ‘The fire had caused serious smoke and heat damage to the property, he said.’
      • ‘This was achieved after improved park management contained the destructive annual fires and reduced livestock grazing and poaching.’
      • ‘The Siberian northern boreal forests, called Taiga, where the fires were burning are mainly spruce and fir trees.’
      • ‘Every summer it seems America is reawakened to the destructive forces of forest fires.’
      • ‘Experts believe more destructive fires are in our future.’
      • ‘At times the reserve staff will start a ‘cold’ fire that is less destructive than latter fires when the grass becomes dry.’
      • ‘The area below her was littered with twisted metal and burning fires.’
      • ‘Orange flames lit the sky as fire destroyed a building on Duke Street during the wee hours of yesterday morning.’
      • ‘The Fire Service admitted that it was one of the most destructive fires they had witnessed in a number of years.’
      • ‘They sat around the fires of the burning town until the sun rose in the East.’
      • ‘They spent three hours there and the whole house was badly damaged by fire and smoke.’
      blaze, conflagration, inferno, holocaust, firestorm
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    2. 1.2[count noun]A collection of fuel, especially coal or wood, burnt in a controlled way to provide heat or a means for cooking.
      ‘we had a bath in a tin tub by the fire’
      • ‘Shivering, through the cold of his body, he dropped to the warmth of the dying fire.’
      • ‘I see myself reclining by a roaring peat fire, glass of whisky in one hand, fat piece of shortbread in the other.’
      • ‘The only need the people had for wood was for fires, and that was provided more than amply enough by the smaller trees scattered along the edge of the forest.’
      • ‘A little ahead of the bed he was on, was a small fireplace with a dim lit fire.’
      • ‘Columns of smoke from cooking fires and controlled burns seemed to dangle groundward from the sky.’
      • ‘The fire is lit well ahead of time to allow the wood to burn down to non-flaming coals.’
      • ‘Of course the fire was lit and tea was made on a regular basis.’
      • ‘Under five sawn-off oil barrels fierce wood fires are burning: on top of them are the woks of giants, each as wide as I can stretch my arms.’
      • ‘Conditions were primitive and patients arrived suffering from malaria, crocodile or snake bites, or burns from open cooking fires.’
      • ‘Much cooking is done in huge pots over a wood fire, stirring ingredients with a long stick.’
      • ‘It shines on both of us, she thought, turning back to the room and her warmly lit fire.’
      • ‘Coal and wood fires smell wonderful but are messy and time-consuming.’
      • ‘Women are also responsible for collection of fuel for cooking fires.’
      • ‘One evening the air grew cold, and so the men went about collecting wood to build a fire.’
      • ‘Yasuko warmly welcomed her inside and offered her a bowl of soup and the warmth of his fire.’
      • ‘Taking another swig of his beer, his eyes came to rest on a stumbling figure walking away from the warmth of the large fire.’
    3. 1.3British [count noun]A domestic heating appliance that uses electricity or gas as fuel.
      ‘she was freezing and keeping the fire low to save money’
      • ‘He has been undertaking a variety of projects including fitting central heating and fires.’
      • ‘Features include gas-fired central heating, gas coal-effect fires in both reception rooms and tiled fireplaces in two of the three bedrooms.’
      • ‘The rules apply to all gas appliances, including central heating boilers, water heaters, fires and cookers.’
      • ‘Over the past three years, there have been 59 deaths and 4,500 injuries from domestic fires in Greater Manchester.’
      • ‘Similarly, people may gain heat radiating from hot walls, concrete, or sand in a hot environment, as well as from fires or central heating radiators in the cold.’
      heater, radiator, convector
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    4. 1.4One of the four elements in ancient and medieval philosophy and in astrology (considered essential to the nature of the signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius)
      [as modifier] ‘a fire sign’
      • ‘Associated with the element of fire and the sun in astrology, the plant was often used in floral oracle readings.’
      • ‘The gift of the fire signs is creative inspiration, evolving into an endless supply of bright ideas and contagious enthusiasm.’
      • ‘Jupiter has rulership in the remaining fire sign Sagittarius, so he is the participating ruler.’
      • ‘Like all the fire signs, Leos are idealistic and don't hold back from expressing their passion.’
      • ‘Aries is a fire sign, Cancer a water sign, so this duet is at odds.’
      • ‘The Emperor is often associated with Aries, which is a strong and assertive astrological fire sign.’
      • ‘A chart that is strong in fire will be optimistic, energetic and, as the name implies, fiery.’
      • ‘People with an emphasis on the fire element tend to be outgoing, inspirational and ‘fiery’.’
      • ‘Like many of his contemporaries, he regarded heat as a physical substance, rather like the ancient elemental fire.’
      • ‘The five elements of Nature, air, fire, land, water and ether have an effect on every human being.’
      • ‘A true Sagittarian to the end, little Bonnie Blue, with her parents, completed the element of fire.’
      • ‘For them, fire has its spirits, so do trees and birds and wild animals.’
  • 2A burning sensation.

    [count noun] ‘the whisky lit a fire in the back of his throat’
    • ‘Brad's eyes bugged out and he clutched his face as pain like fire ripped through his head.’
    • ‘The minute her hand made contact with the metal a very sharp pain that felt like fire ran up her entire arm.’
    1. 2.1Fervent or passionate emotion or enthusiasm.
      ‘the fire of their religious conviction’
      • ‘It's weak, saggy and missing even a spark of fire or passion.’
      • ‘Maybe I would have less passion, less fire, less anger driving me to make the world a better place.’
      • ‘The prophets of the Temple period opposed paganism with all of their ethical fire and passion.’
      • ‘He does what he does best, puts fire into men's hearts, plants the seeds of war.’
      • ‘Tony's fire and enthusiasm has always been a delight, but desire gets you nowhere by itself.’
      • ‘So, in anticipation of the great event, we might as well get into the spirit and put some fire into our bellies too.’
      • ‘Naomh Eoin played a fantastic match, full of fire and passion, so much so they were in front for all but 17 minutes.’
      • ‘It was played with passion and fire, by a massive orchestra.’
      • ‘His fear bubbled to the surface, quelling the fire of his enthusiasm as he saw how irregular her breathing was.’
      • ‘The dancing at Arios is great but what is missing here is fire and passion among the dancers.’
      • ‘Check it out and remind yourself how real music should be played with fire and skill, heart and soul, love and affection.’
      • ‘She was tiny too, I guessed barely five feet, and yet she seemed to have fire and passion in her eyes.’
      • ‘There are moments when he shows a glimpse of his old flair and fire but they are just that, moments.’
      • ‘It was a great team effort with the lads playing with fire, passion, determination and a tremendous will to win.’
      dynamism, energy, vigour, animation, vitality, vibrancy, exuberance, ebullience, zest, elan
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    2. 2.2literary A glowing or luminous quality.
      ‘their soft smiles light the air like a star's fire’
  • 3The shooting of projectiles from weapons, especially bullets from guns.

    ‘a burst of machine-gun fire’
    ‘mortar fire’
    • ‘The attackers sprayed a truck full of policemen with machine-gun fire.’
    • ‘A rocket had hit the trunk and it was caught in a hail of machinegun fire but it kept going until it was out of site.’
    • ‘He lasted just 24 days at Gallipoli before he was killed by machine-gun fire.’
    • ‘A burst of machine-gun fire from one of the tanks slammed into a wall a few metres away.’
    • ‘The enemy met descending paratroopers with heavy small arms and machinegun fire.’
    • ‘Our giggling stopped with a burst followed by an answering burst of machine-gun fire coming from the river about fifty yards away.’
    • ‘Almost immediately there was a sustained burst of machine-gun fire just up the road from us here.’
    • ‘We expected mortars to be added to the rifle and machinegun fire, but the Germans did not use them.’
    • ‘Automatic weapon fire dissolved the first car in a snowstorm of broken glass.’
    • ‘The crackle of heavy machine-gun fire echoed across the capital and allied aircraft were heard overhead.’
    • ‘A burst of machinegun fire hit the ground in front of them so that they were sprayed by a shower of broken bullets and stones.’
    • ‘Suddenly it came under a concentrated barrage of German artillery and machinegun fire.’
    • ‘Four men were cut down by machine-gun fire in a gangland-style shooting.’
    • ‘Batteries and small groups of infantry were attacked with machine-gun fire.’
    • ‘However, in the hail of bullets and recoilless rifle fire, over fifty hostages had been killed.’
    • ‘On his second tour of duty in Korea, he was cut down by enemy machine-gun fire.’
    • ‘The spread of radio sets made tactical separation easier and improved the control of artillery and mortar fire.’
    • ‘Three hours later a second Chinook sent to rescue him was hit by machine-gun fire and another rocket-propelled grenade.’
    • ‘The tube belched fire and the projectile covered the short distance to the tank in an instant.’
    • ‘Skirting the village, the group crossed a little canal and came under intense mortar fire.’
    gunfire, firing, sniping, flak, bombardment
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    1. 3.1Strong criticism or antagonism.
      ‘he directed his fire against policies promoting American capital flight’
      • ‘Hitler himself was occasionally caught in the line of fire of criticism.’
      • ‘Despite drawing critical fire and reactionary ire, the show's back for a second series.’
      • ‘This time, his fire will be directed at local officials and police who may not be pulling their weight in the battle against drugs.’
      • ‘But it is against Christianity as an organized phenomenon that Russell most directed his fire.’
      • ‘She had to flee Guatemala to come to Canada after her work with trade unions put her in direct fire of the local cartels in her home country.’
      • ‘Their fire should be directed at the main parties who have let this situation arise.’
      • ‘You've taken some quick and direct fire on basically asking women to return to the care of children.’
      • ‘While his fire was directed mainly at the press, he believes hostility lurks in the government and among the general public.’
      • ‘Critics of this approach - and there are many - direct their fire at two of its arguments.’
      • ‘While he has taken most of the flak, the main fire should be directed at his partner.’
      • ‘This episode, recorded only by Luke, has come under some serious critical fire.’
      • ‘He takes hostile fire from the press after jumping into the presidential race.’
      • ‘Moving on now, a top official fired back today as his government has come under critical fire.’
      criticism, censure, condemnation, castigation, denunciation, opprobrium, admonishments, vituperation, scolding, chiding
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  • 1Discharge a gun or other weapon in order to propel (a bullet or projectile)

    ‘he fired a shot at the retreating prisoners’
    ‘they fired off a few rounds’
    • ‘Warfare is the next step with the powers of hot gas being harnessed to fire projectiles from cannons or small arms.’
    • ‘More than 125 people were arrested and scores more injured by police, who, in addition to tear gas and rubber bullets, fired live ammunition at the workers.’
    • ‘For the highest pressures, brute force is applied in the form of the shock-wave apparatus, in which a projectile is fired at the sample.’
    • ‘By 1916 he had devised a method to calculate the position from which the projectile was fired very accurately allowing enemy gun locations to be targeted.’
    • ‘Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd.’
    • ‘If the projectile is fired parallel to the ground, this effect causes the typical downward curved trajectory.’
    • ‘Six workers were injured after troops fired plastic bullets and teargas and then baton-charged the crowd.’
    • ‘The Vulcan works by firing a projectile at high speed into a landmine, ripping it apart without detonating the explosives.’
    • ‘A British ballistic missile submarine has fired torpedoes at an American destroyer - all for the sake of research.’
    • ‘Firing pin marks on cartridge cases and ejector marks on shells also can be used to provide clues to the type or make of the weapon that fired the bullet.’
    • ‘When this projectile is fired into trash piles, trucks, or boxes, it sticks to the target and sends back data.’
    • ‘The moment came, and with the twelfth shot fired off, the bullets ceased and Johner drew back behind the barricade to reload his gun.’
    • ‘Police said rubber bullets were fired, while the union claimed that birdshot had been used.’
    • ‘They fired a rubber bullet which bounced off the wall and I went to get it.’
    • ‘Ammunition stocks disappeared as artillery fired projectiles far in excess of prewar projections.’
    • ‘The soldiers firing the projectiles were his heroes.’
    • ‘In suppressing the Quebec City protests, Canadian police for the first time used the impact weapon Arwen 37 which fires rubber bullets.’
    • ‘Six of the crude projectiles were fired, damaging two houses but causing no injuries.’
    launch, shoot, discharge, eject, hurl, throw, send flying, let fly with, loose off, shy, send
    shoot, discharge, let off, trigger, set off, blast
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    1. 1.1Discharge (a gun or other weapon)
      ‘another gang fired a pistol through the window of a hostel’
      [no object] ‘troops fired on crowds’
      • ‘Only a few weeks ago, there was a small gang of very young children firing an air rifle in the children's area of the park.’
      • ‘The gang fired the gun at the glass security screen of the Post Office in Halifax Road, Cullingworth, at 10 am on Monday but fled empty handed.’
      • ‘When they fired back, he and his crew fired both guns directly into them.’
      • ‘He fired a machine gun and a few small missiles at it.’
      • ‘But there were clashes as demonstrators tried to break through and police drove them back, firing water cannons and tear gas.’
      • ‘Suddenly he heard the distinct noise of a Gatling gun being fired.’
      • ‘Others have suggested that he held on to the pistol while firing the shotgun one-handed.’
      • ‘Airmen, needless to say, showed themselves eager, hurling grenades and firing their weapons at targets on the ground from the earliest days of the war.’
      • ‘They began beating them with clubs, and then fired water cannons at them.’
      • ‘Someone fired an air rifle at the rear of the school site and three pupils were slightly injured.’
      • ‘Back in March youngsters fired an air gun rifle at a female youth worker and hit her in the leg.’
      • ‘They ran through a block of single story residences, throwing grenades and firing their weapons.’
      • ‘They spoke of incidents of violence, which included a disabled woman twice narrowly escaping injury from a youth firing an air rifle and a pensioner's pet dog being shot dead.’
      • ‘He studied the simple pistol grip that fired the main gun.’
      • ‘You'll notice in my data that I never reached the factory-specified velocities, firing either carbines or rifles.’
      • ‘Even the fun of watching the frigate fire her guns did not help my airsickness.’
      • ‘A woman on disability benefits narrowly missed being hurt by a youth firing an air rifle - twice in 24 hours.’
      • ‘It was hard to see the extent of the damage because the windscreen was dirty after firing the gun.’
      • ‘A teacher who was jailed for firing an air pistol while confronting a gang of youths outside her home was freed on appeal yesterday.’
      • ‘Vandals have fired an air rifle at the windows of a pre-school.’
    2. 1.2[no object](of a gun) be discharged.
      ‘the first gun fired’
      • ‘I first hear his machine guns firing and I turn my head in shock.’
      • ‘The two of them moved together, their guns fired almost at the same time, twin weapons discharging loudly into the near silence.’
      • ‘Narrowly above him, a machine gun fired into the thin air.’
      • ‘The guns are firing before they can even start to move.’
      • ‘A scream suddenly echoed throughout the gardens, startling us both, followed by a dull bang that could have been a gun firing and a body hitting the ground.’
      • ‘The SAW machine guns began firing through the windows, blowing huge chunks out of the apartment's brick façade.’
      • ‘Only a second later did he begin to charge, his guns firing.’
      • ‘A second later anti-air guns began firing at the craft.’
      • ‘He cracked his neck, and it sounded like a gun firing.’
      • ‘Unexpectedly they heard a very distinct sound; a gun firing.’
      • ‘The three close upon the Dornier with all their guns firing.’
      • ‘Within 50 yards the German machine guns started firing and men began to fall.’
      • ‘The guns started firing on the first step I took.’
      • ‘According to first findings, the guard was shot down with eight or nine bullets from a machine gun fired by an unknown number of assailants who had approached him.’
      • ‘Mr Reed, who owns his own haulage company, was in the park when he heard an air rifle being fired.’
      • ‘The Gatling guns all fired simultaneously, tearing through the rear of the vehicle and into the trunk.’
      • ‘However, Leon quickly broke the sound barrier, running to the other side of the Geno, the side where the guns weren't firing.’
      • ‘The attack on Rommel's lines started with over 800 artillery guns firing at the German lines.’
      • ‘As the planes flew overhead, all the guns started firing.’
      • ‘The screen showed the gun firing very accurately at a target.’
    3. 1.3Direct (questions or statements, especially unwelcome ones) towards someone in rapid succession.
      ‘they fired questions at me for what seemed like ages’
      • ‘Parents fired questions at the administration about how the institution is dealing with the double cohort.’
      • ‘She fires questions at them, most requiring only basic general knowledge.’
      • ‘I should add that the stations' hosts were genial even as they fired questions at me that they will have heard other guests or callers refer to repeatedly.’
      • ‘The youngsters fired questions on acting, dubbing, editing as well as shooting.’
      • ‘A huge media pack fired questions as the three, visibly upset, rushed past with their faces covered.’
      • ‘They are also having great fun, absorbed in what they are doing, breaking off only to fire insistent questions at their teacher.’
      • ‘Presumably there were questions fired at him about the fact that he's said to have admitted lying.’
      • ‘However, he still was not content and he fired one more question at me.’
      • ‘Mukesh also faced questions fired by students with characteristic ease.’
      • ‘As the climax approaches, dozens of reporters run onto the stage, firing questions about the scandal in every direction.’
      • ‘And Les, a veteran of such events, said he was hoping to fire some questions at the minister.’
      • ‘They all faced John Campbell of TV3 who had the task of not only firing the questions but of keeping order, and harder still keeping their answers on track.’
      • ‘The questions were fired at the panel in the village institute and all went smoothly.’
      • ‘While it may be called speed dating this does not mean you need to fire questions rapidly across the table.’
      • ‘For a quiz programme, it was quite a short one, with the questions being fired rapidly, and answered with equal speed by the contestants.’
      throw, toss, fling, pitch, cast, lob, launch, flip, catapult, shy, dash, send, bowl, aim, direct, project, propel, let fly
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    4. 1.4Send a message aggressively.
      ‘he fired off a letter informing her that he regarded the matter with the utmost seriousness’
      • ‘So we wrote the letter to the management company, fired it off, got a reply - which was much appreciated - and left it.’
      • ‘Jacqueline Clarke as octogenarian pianist Jeanette had the best of the one-liners - firing them off like Mae West in her prime - while Tommy Knight as Jerry's son Nath is a little star in the making.’
      • ‘Obviously he wasn't getting the attention he craved while we were all asleep on this side of the world, so it must have made sense to type out some bizarre stuff in emails and fire them off to me.’
      • ‘I fired my letter off to the Speaker immediately.’
      • ‘Around 4.5 million emails are fired off by Britain's workforce every day, many of them including non-work related content.’
      • ‘In Tang Hall, 524 people signed objecting letters, and 72 protest letters were fired off to city chiefs.’
      • ‘He promptly fired a letter off, through his lawyer, declaring he that was confounded by the request that he assent to any such payment.’
      • ‘The problem with email excess is that people often just fire them off without giving much thought to whether the message was really needed or whether the content was right.’
      • ‘I fire the email off to about five different places.’
      • ‘As I learned later, Miss Nightingale herself hated all the ‘lady with the lamp’ guff and was much happier ploughing through volumes of public health statistics or firing sharp letters off to cabinet ministers.’
      • ‘A U-turn only came about when the Evening Advertiser contacted a local MP, who fired a letter off to the Foreign Office.’
      • ‘However, senior Army officials felt differently, firing last-minute faxes off in an effort to stall or defeat the amendment.’
      • ‘‘Yeah, I had physics, chemistry, biology, maths and general studies,’ he fires them off nonchalantly.’
      • ‘He should do his homework before he fires letters off to your paper.’
      • ‘Once you've got your message written, you can fire it off to anywhere in the world for 22 cents.’
  • 2informal Dismiss (an employee) from a job.

    ‘I had to fire men who've been with me for years’
    ‘you're fired!’
    • ‘The problem is that the paper has fired this trainee journalist presumably due to public pressure and not, one assumes, some facts of his resume.’
    • ‘In May 2003, he fired his deputy and two other lawmakers and appointed Mumba to the deputy position.’
    • ‘He fired his deputy president for having ties to a businessman who was recently convicted of corruption.’
    • ‘A disciplinary hearing was held and the messenger was fired.’
    • ‘A couple of years ago, a Bell Labs professor was fired over fake data.’
    • ‘This story apparently came to light when an assistant district attorney was fired for settling the case and not informing his superior.’
    • ‘The constitution gives the powers of hiring or firing magistrates to the Judicial Service Commission, which Gicheru chairs.’
    • ‘From the start of this year, the president has had the right to effectively hire and fire governors.’
    • ‘We don't fire professors in the United States for their views when we are in our right minds.’
    • ‘As it happens, a few readers have written in to say that firing a couple aides at random might marginally improve the situation as well.’
    • ‘He has fired his attorneys, accusing them of conspiring against him.’
    • ‘He also fired the country's prosecutor general as demanded by the opposition.’
    • ‘There is a reluctance on the part of broadcast executives to fire presenters who stir up public outrage - because it sells.’
    • ‘During his trial, he fired his attorney and insisted on representing himself.’
    • ‘We should examine why it is virtually impossible to fire a policeman.’
    • ‘He says that in a few instances, solely on account of their bad report cards, he has fired salespeople who were writing up heaps of orders.’
    dismiss, discharge, give someone their notice, make redundant, lay off, let go, throw out, get rid of, oust, depose
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  • 3Supply (a furnace, engine, etc.) with fuel.

    ‘liquefied petroleum gas can fire room heaters’
    • ‘Because Watt's engine was fired by coal and not water, spinning factories could be located virtually anywhere.’
    • ‘As a teenager, to help his parents, he'd work double shifts firing engines in rail yards.’
    • ‘We were constructing wooden housing and using charcoal to fire blast furnaces.’
    1. 3.1[no object](of an internal combustion engine) undergo ignition of its fuel when started.
      ‘the engine fired and she pushed her foot down on the accelerator’
      • ‘Getting behind the car, he pushed with gusto until the engine fired.’
      • ‘Geordie who was talking to Cameron Shelton brought his conversation to a halt reluctantly, with several false stops like a car that kept on firing after the ignition had been switched on.’
      • ‘Fortunately, the engine fired, the tires went round and round, and the pan didn't leak.’
      • ‘As the Spitfire flypast disappeared into the horizon, engines fired into life and the TGP aces flew out of the pit lane to form up the grid.’
      • ‘I could see now the Cyclops taking off, it's engines and jets fired into life and slowly lifted off the ground.’
      • ‘Mars Express orbiter's main engine is firing for Mars Orbit Insertion.’
      • ‘Tension ran high among the engineers when the Vinci engine fired, and the hydrogen and oxygen valves opened in sequence for the first time.’
      • ‘As they passed outside the larger ship's dock, there was a much larger engine firing.’
      • ‘The engine only fired for a few seconds before shutting off again, and the missile fell.’
      • ‘The only practical way to do this is to add some sort of large rocket engine that fires right before impact.’
      • ‘Over the next few months, the ion engine fires to raise the highest point of its orbit to match the orbit of the Moon.’
      • ‘Once the trailing satellite has nearly caught up, it fires its engines away from the leading satellite to achieve the same orbit again.’
      • ‘Tension in Mission Control were high, as the engine had to fire while the craft was on the far side of the Moon, and out of radio contact.’
      • ‘Lind was able to get to the damned engines before they fired.’
      • ‘Its ion-propulsion engine will fire continuously for the next four days to help it stabilise.’
      ignite, start, catch, get started, get going
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    2. 3.2Start (an engine or other device)
      ‘with a flick of his wrist he fired up the chainsaw’
      ‘he fired up the laptop to find the address of his hostel’
      • ‘I stumbled to my home office and fired up my laptop to see what the problem was.’
      • ‘I rolled out of bed, fired up the computer, and a couple hours later I had the first chapter.’
      • ‘After a year's delay, loggers fired up the chainsaws on 4 April.’
      • ‘A few times every spring and summer, Dad would fire up the old station wagon and drive us all to Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.’
      • ‘You want to shop for something, you don't go to a store, you just fire up a laptop or a smartphone and order it.’
      • ‘Now is the perfect time to fire up the grill or prepare cool dishes such as salads, sandwiches and chilled soups like gazpacho.’
      • ‘The wife hopped into the passenger seat with a smile; I fired the engine, dropped the top and we headed off with the sunset.’
      • ‘When the driver releases the brake pedal, the "extra" battery fires up the engine.’
      • ‘It rained hard enough to chase us off the lake and back to the cabin to fire up the wood stove.’
      • ‘I fired up my DVD player, reclined in my easy chair, and let the film unfurl before me.’
      activate, set in motion, switch on, turn on, fire up
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    3. 3.3archaic Set fire to.
      ‘I fired the straw’
  • 4Stimulate or excite (the imagination or an emotion)

    ‘India fired my imagination’
    • ‘Writing and producing in a cross-cultural environment has fired his imagination and he has exploited the situation to the hilt.’
    • ‘They don't fire the imagination or arouse the passions like the aristocratic love of honor.’
    • ‘In the Dominican Republic, it fired the imagination of a vibrant people.’
    • ‘However, his imagination was fired by classic Westerns he had seen as a child.’
    • ‘Anything is relevant to the pupil that fires the imagination or extends the mind.’
    • ‘It's no wonder the Romans can fire our imaginations, but what values did they hold, to help them to such success?’
    • ‘Granada is also resonant with romance, having fired the imagination of Romantic poets and painters two centuries ago.’
    • ‘It is a vision that engages and fires his imagination.’
    • ‘Meera's blind love for Krishna has fired the imagination of many poets.’
    • ‘He had been busy accumulating knowledge, and stories told to him by his grandfather and other old-timers had fired his imagination.’
    • ‘Allende's vow to carry out a peaceful Socialist revolution fired the imagination of millions.’
    stimulate, stir up, excite, enliven, awaken, arouse, rouse, call forth, draw forth, bring out, engender, evoke, inflame, breathe life into, put life into, animate
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    1. 4.1Fill (someone) with enthusiasm.
      ‘he was fired up for last season's FA Cup final’
      • ‘He was fired with a purpose - to highlight the plight of the poor, suffering masses of India.’
      • ‘Certainly, running boards and helping nurture companies still fires him, as does his delight in seeing young people progress.’
      • ‘He was ambitious of a wider effect: he was fired with the possibility that he might work out the proof of an anatomical conception and make a link in the chain of discovery.’
      • ‘It is a subject that clearly fires him and he delves enthusiastically into the process of applying for landing slots and the use of cooking oil as a fuel.’
      activate, motivate, stimulate, actuate, move, drive, rouse, stir, stir up, arouse, energize, animate, fire
      View synonyms
    2. 4.2archaic [no object]Show sudden anger.
      ‘If I were to hear anyone speak slightingly of you, I should fire up in a moment’
      stir up, arouse, rouse, excite, galvanize, electrify, stimulate, inspire, move, fire the enthusiasm of, fire the imagination of, get going, whip up, inflame, agitate, goad, provoke, spur on, urge, encourage, animate, incite, egg on
      View synonyms
  • 5Bake or dry (pottery, bricks, etc.) in a kiln.

    ‘methane gas is being used to fire bricks at a nearby factory’
    • ‘The houses and kivas of this period were heated with coal, which was also used for firing pottery.’
    • ‘Clay can also be decorated with paint once it is dry or has been fired in a kiln.’
    • ‘All methods require that the mould be fired in the kiln; the mould can then be used again for numerous replicas.’
    • ‘People using acrylic paints can take away the finished article, but those who prefer water-based paints must wait a few days while they are glazed and fired in a kiln.’
    • ‘The inked tissue was then laid on the once-fired pottery item, and the pottery was glazed and fired again.’
    • ‘Molding something out of clay, decorating it and glazing it, then firing it in the kiln is a fantastic experience for young artists.’
    • ‘The temperature needed for firing pottery is between 700-1,000 centigrade.’
    • ‘Pottery in Texas was fired in a groundhog kiln, so named because part of the kiln is buried in the earth.’
    • ‘The fire that was built over the pots excluded most of the oxygen which fired the pottery black or charcoal-grey.’
    • ‘He can do chores for you, such as firing your pottery.’
    • ‘These are then fired in kilns and collected or posted out the following day.’
    • ‘Now here's a chance to try your hand at making, glazing and firing your own Raku pieces.’
    • ‘The factory uses combined electricity and coal-fired kilns for firing the bricks.’
    • ‘The first porcelain was fired at this manufactory in July 1766.’
    • ‘The technique of making majolica begins with firing a piece of earthenware.’
    • ‘Brick can also be fired to contain numerous color variations within a range of tones appearing in a single brick.’
    • ‘The large size of the animals required both internal and external supports to prevent them from collapsing in the kiln during firing.’
    • ‘When fired in a kiln at 1,250 degrees, the oxides and glass pieces melt to form a beautiful layer.’
    • ‘Its lava streams and agricultural fields are made from tiles fired at the museum and from bricks fired by local brickyards.’
    • ‘After making the pottery shelters, the children watched as their efforts were fired in a kiln.’


  • breathe fire

    • Be extremely angry.

      ‘I don't want an indignant boyfriend on my doorstep breathing fire’
      • ‘Well, to go around with a father who breathes fire every time you go out to someone's house…’
      • ‘Its new leader, its military wing, are breathing fire essentially.’
      • ‘You can bet your last dollar if this happened in my school district I would be raising hell so fast and so loud I would be breathing fire.’
      • ‘The new health minister entered the ring with the group breathing fire, promising a knock-down, drag-out struggle to the death, vowing there would be no retreat.’
      • ‘As a strong police posse stood around watching, district fan club members gathered, forming an angry group and breathing fire at the critical references to their hero.’
      • ‘He joined the race late and went on rightwing talk radio, breathing fire with a slight southern drawl against abortion, divorce’
      • ‘Scott McLean scored the resulting penalty, but John Lambie was left to breathe fire at his side as Ian Ferguson snatched an unlikely equaliser on 65 minutes.’
      • ‘The other goon has been taken care of by this time by Alexias so Eavan and Lambeth bear down on the sheriff, Lambeth breathes fire at her and she backs off swearing.’
      • ‘I wasn't breathing fire in every scene, but I wanted to get across that he was a psychotic.’
      • ‘He has worked with him as a player and a pundit and doesn't see much difference from the gum-chewing manager who used to breathe fire from the dugout.’
  • catch fire

    • 1Begin to burn.

      ‘the driver had got out before the car had caught fire’
      • ‘But nowadays, we very much hope that we don't get cars catching fire.’
      • ‘In a finely divided form, the metal may catch fire spontaneously and burn vigorously.’
      • ‘The defendant employed a chauffeur, and on one occasion when he was attempting to start the car it caught fire.’
      • ‘He said the assault happened when the contents of an aerosol sprayed at the boy's head caught fire, burning his eyebrows and hair.’
      • ‘‘Cars catching fire is a very frequent occurrence in Shanghai,’ Jiang said.’
      • ‘He spoke to the driver who made no response, and because of his concern that the car could catch fire he disconnected its battery.’
      • ‘It was rare that a race report didn't include at least one car catching fire or sailing off course on the top end.’
      • ‘After the rectory caught fire and burned down in July 1702, he changed his mind.’
      • ‘The electricity sparked and sections of the subway began to catch fire.’
      • ‘The moth eventually catches fire, burns and dies; consumed by the very mystery it sought.’
      ignite, catch light, burst into flames, go up in flames, begin to burn
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Become interesting or exciting.
        ‘the show never caught fire’
        • ‘Suddenly history smouldered, warmed up, caught fire and burned into my consciousness.’
        • ‘But unless consumers notice a dramatic change for the better, Firefox could really begin to catch fire - and outfox Internet Explorer.’
        • ‘I think they've really caught fire and really have done something very, very important.’
        • ‘Brian Maloney has an interesting post up about Air America's failure to catch fire with listeners.’
        • ‘They're just now getting interested in the campaign, but he hasn't caught fire.’
        • ‘The offensive began in Paris just as the market began to catch fire.’
        • ‘As the game began to catch fire in the States, business proved brisk.’
        • ‘September 17 was the day the inquiry caught fire.’
  • fire and brimstone

    • The supposed torments of hell.

      ‘his father was preaching fire and brimstone sermons’
      • ‘A distinct thread of superstition - of curses, of fire and brimstone, and of the inherent existence of evil in human nature - runs throughout.’
      • ‘They had hymns, a sermon with fire and brimstone, and all the usual traditional elements.’
      • ‘Irrespective of all the fire and brimstone, he should do the right thing and immediately withdraw his inconsiderate remarks with a full apology.’
      • ‘It was on the subject he had been assigned by his apparently normal suburban Catholic school: Hell, and all its fire and brimstone.’
      • ‘After a couple of hours of telling off and hell fire and brimstone the priest was leaving.’
      • ‘With the fire and brimstone of the Old Testament, the parishioner condemns his perversion.’
      • ‘Viki looked at the two sympathetically, these two have been through hell fire and brimstone to be with each other.’
      • ‘Rather than turn people onto religion with threats of fire and brimstone, the association of decidedly modern churches' messages open a gentler gateway into the fold.’
      • ‘In contrast to the old-style fire and brimstone, today's efforts to curb personal freedoms and erode civil liberties are justified in the terms of health and safety.’
      • ‘Those, who in their mind did not deserve to uphold the ‘bedrock of society’, would be chastised with fire and brimstone.’
      the netherworld, the abode of the dead, the land of the dead, the infernal regions, the inferno, the nether regions, the abyss
      View synonyms
  • fire away

    • informal Used to give someone permission to begin speaking, typically to ask questions.

      ‘‘I want to clear up some questions which have been puzzling me.’ ‘Fire away.’’
      • ‘He showed up and gave a speech that went: ‘I don't have a speech, but if you have questions, fire away.’’
      • ‘I'll have a couple of questions and then we'll have both Christiane and Nic fire away as well.’
      • ‘If you have a burning question that's of interest to all, fire away.’
      • ‘If any of you reading this article has a question, then fire away!’
      • ‘Whatever you've always wanted to know, fire away!’
      • ‘I patiently waited until he finished, and then told him to fire away.’
      • ‘Should you think otherwise, well, I'm a big boy; fire away.’
      • ‘‘Okay, fire away,’ I replied with a small smirk dancing on my lips.’
      • ‘As always, this is meant to open up some discussion and feedback, so feel free to fire away.’
      • ‘And she's going to read from that and then we'll fire away some questions.’
  • fire in the (or one's) belly

    • A powerful sense of ambition or determination.

      ‘he lacks the fire in his belly necessary to seek the presidency’
      • ‘He is like a prizefighter determined to show that there is still some fire in his belly.’
      • ‘It's enough if you have the attitude and the fire in your belly.’
      • ‘Kilkeel played with fire in their belly and deserved their point.’
      • ‘It's an attitude, a presence, a fire in your belly.’
      • ‘That's I think enough for me; I don't know that I have the fire in my belly to try to launch another one and go through the whole thing that happens when you do that.’
      • ‘Matt from Winnipeg told me, ‘They've put the fire in my belly to fight this for the rest of my life.’’
      • ‘I felt the union needed someone with fire in their belly but even then there were guys warning me that in backing him I would rue the day.’
      • ‘It gives me more determination and a bit of fire in my belly to prove people wrong.’
      • ‘If you have a real fire in your belly about an idea, then you need to carry it through’.’
      • ‘The 2003 Jobs with Justice Annual Meeting has left me with a fire in my belly.’
  • fire on all cylinders

    • Work or function at a peak level of performance.

      ‘neither conductor nor orchestra are really firing on all cylinders’
      • ‘They say, except for jobs creation, the economy was firing on all cylinders from July through September.’
      • ‘The forward line needs to be firing on all cylinders, and the team's penalty corner drill needs to be imaginative and forceful.’
      • ‘But I hope to back firing on all cylinders from the middle of January, 2004.’
      • ‘Records are there to be broken and Celtic are firing on all cylinders just now.’
      • ‘On a technical level, Scorsese is firing on all cylinders, but emotionally the film is a bit distant.’
      • ‘The Clan came out firing on all cylinders in the first game.’
      • ‘I feel as if I'm still three or four weeks away (from match fitness), I just feel as if I'm not firing on all cylinders.’
      • ‘Last night was a great example of a band firing on all cylinders and while we don't think the new record quite survived the transition to a big label intact, live at least, every song is a killer.’
      • ‘England have oozed that sort of confidence throughout this current campaign, and have carried on winning even when not firing on all cylinders.’
      • ‘Liverpool were still not firing on all cylinders, but were looking good enough to get the win and, at this stage of the season, that's all that matters.’
  • go on fire

    • Begin to burn; catch fire.

      ‘an oil rig went on fire’
      • ‘The Vauxhall was driven into a crash barrier made up of the tyres and either went on fire or was set alight.’
      • ‘Then building after building went on fire, tiny sparks of heat filling the air.’
      • ‘AROUND 360 pupils had to be evacuated from a Bessbrook primary school and sheltered in a nearby church hall after part of the school's roof went on fire.’
      • ‘The last time the emergency plan was activated in Mayo was on April 1st, 1999, when a Belmullet factory went on fire.’
      • ‘Following the incident, the emission of sparks from the line caused the area around the line to go on fire.’
      • ‘‘We are very thankful to everyone who helped at the scene and to whoever sprayed the car with a fire extinguisher and stopped it going on fire,’ reflected Tom McDonald, father of Tomás.’
      • ‘It is understood that controlled burning was taking place at the premises around noon but the fire spread to a stack of some 2,000 pallets and as the blaze took hold a 40-foot container filled with cured sheepskin rugs also went on fire.’
      • ‘We made a U-turn, a taxi hit us, then the car went on fire but it didn't explode.’
      • ‘Since it was abandoned after it went on fire, a legacy of lethal radioactive substances remains.’
      • ‘An oil pipe was cut with an angle grinder and apparently the sparks caused the oil to go on fire.’
      • ‘A worried mother contacted him after her child had received a leg injury when his coat went on fire.’
      • ‘Regular cleaning reduces the risk of equipment going on fire.’
      • ‘A few weeks ago in Newry someone was irresponsible with fireworks and it resulted in an oil tank at the back of a property going on fire.’
      • ‘And a coach which goes on fire with passengers in it is a horror which should not happen.’
      • ‘A silage harvester went on fire on Tuesday, May 18 at Clone, Aughrim.’
      • ‘Then disaster strikes and the old home goes on fire.’
      • ‘When my house goes on fire or when I have a car accident, I want to know that you people will be there for me in an instant.’
      • ‘He was killed when the cottage he was renting went on fire.’
      • ‘She kept wondering what she would do if the equipment went on fire.’
      • ‘No reason cited yet, so far, but 350 barrels of fuel basically went on fire in that area.’
  • go through fire (and water)

    • Face any peril.

      • ‘You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water.’
      • ‘The tragedy of this woman lies in the rejection of her awesome sacrifice by the very person for whom she went through fire: her son Bharata.’
      • ‘He became a father-figure to young athletes, who would go through fire for him.’
      • ‘She would go through fire and ice for Natai, whether she knew it or not.’
      • ‘He has been through a lot, and when a man is tested, you don't know what he's made of until he really goes through fire.’
      • ‘You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.’
      • ‘The psalmist exemplifies this attitude and praises God, ‘Israel's deliverer,’ who has ‘given life to our souls,’ for although ‘we went through fire and water… you have led us out to refreshment.’’
  • light a fire under

    • Stimulate (someone) to work or act more quickly or enthusiastically.

      ‘claiming that Congress doesn't work hard enough is a good way to light a fire under his colleagues’
      • ‘This is the type of bold move that will light a fire under the Yankees.’
      • ‘I'm ready to do everything I can to make a difference and light a fire under people.’
      • ‘Suddenly he remembered something that lit a fire under him.’
      • ‘Maybe if I fire a couple of laggards that'll light a fire under them!’
      • ‘I hope this challenge to his position lights a fire under his coat tails because he has the capacity to be an excellent trial attorney.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the musical subculture Tee helped build is lighting a fire under more traditional DJs looking to add some new sounds to their sets.’
      • ‘They can move mountains with their enthusiasm and energy and light a fire under almost anything.’
      • ‘Massenet's strong yet impulsively teenager-ish heroine seems to have lit a fire under her, because here she is at her best.’
      • ‘I think that lights a fire under the Senators to do their work quickly.’
      • ‘Eventually, I think, something will happen, some spark will be set off that lights a fire under this market.’
      encourage, act as a fillip to, act as a impetus to, act as a incentive to, act as a spur to, act as a stimulus to, prompt, prod, move, motivate, trigger, spark, spur on, galvanize, activate, kindle, fire, fire with enthusiasm, fuel, whet, nourish
      View synonyms
  • on fire

    • 1In flames; burning.

      ‘the house was on fire’
      • ‘She had realised her house was on fire when she touched a door handle and discovered it was hot.’
      • ‘He claimed her neighbour's house was on fire and said she had to grab her valuables and leave.’
      • ‘When they looked outside they realised one of the houses was on fire and screams were heard.’
      • ‘With another soldier, he helped remove a sideboard from a house that was on fire at the request of the woman who lived there.’
      • ‘A next door neighbour, who called the fire brigade, said at first she thought it was her house which was on fire.’
      • ‘He recounts the time a journalist asked him what three things he would save were his house on fire.’
      • ‘A terraced house was on fire, with smoke and flames pouring from the ground and first floor windows.’
      • ‘A log in that unsightly pile writhed as if it were already on fire, though the flames had not quite reached it.’
      • ‘If your house was on fire, what one item would you grab as you dashed to safety?’
      • ‘The intrepid dad ran outside to find his van was on fire and flames were spreading to the front of his home.’
      burning, ablaze, blazing, aflame, in flames, flaming, raging, fiery
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1In a state of excitement.
        ‘Wright is now on fire with confidence’
        • ‘The crowd was literally on fire, as couples jived as if there was no tomorrow.’
        • ‘Pat Harte was on fire for the entire sixty minutes and scored some crucial points during the game.’
        • ‘Trevor Smullen, in the other corner, was also on fire, landing five points from play.’
        • ‘They are on fire, a team full of confidence and ability and belief in each other.’
        • ‘York were on fire and skipper for the day Sean Bass picked up an awkward pass off his toes.’
        • ‘The troupe was literally on fire, as they turned, swayed and bent showing amazing skills.’
        • ‘After a poor performance in Cork the previous weekend the home side were always going to come out on fire.’
        • ‘Paddy Murray was on fire and rattled over five exquisite points in a blistering opening half.’
        • ‘He was on fire in the opening 20 minutes but he was also guilty of a lack of finishing touch.’
        ardent, passionate, fervent, intense, excited, aflutter
        View synonyms
  • return fire

    • Retaliate by shooting back.

      ‘police returned fire and wounded him’
      • ‘In self-defence, the force immediately returned fire and killed the two aggressors.’
      • ‘A seven-year veteran of the army, he grabs his rifle and returns fire.’
      • ‘His fellow guards returned fire, wounding the suspect, his name.’
      • ‘If there is an extraction of our people, they can return fire to defend themselves.’
      • ‘The sheriff said three other officers returned fire.’
      • ‘The Ministry of Defence said that the soldiers returned fire after coming under attack.’
      • ‘Troops were attacked by grenades and small arms and returned fire, killing three.’
  • set fire to

    • Cause to burn; ignite.

      ‘the town's police station was set on fire’
      • ‘Hundreds of young men attacked the newspaper's office on Wednesday, set it on fire and burned copies of the paper.’
      • ‘Under the watchful eye of the local fire department, we set the test facility on fire.’
      • ‘It set the entire area on fire, burning down trees, grass, animals, and anything else that got in its way.’
      • ‘She then lit a match, setting the goo on fire, and brushed up the ashes.’
      • ‘Miraculously he never burned himself or set the house on fire.’
      • ‘We have had fires galore and one family was burnt out when someone set a wheelie bin on fire in their porch.’
      • ‘He said his own radio had been burned when their vehicle had been set on fire.’
      • ‘Toilet blocks were set on fire and lighting masts pulled down during a two-hour rampage that caused damage estimated at £250,000.’
      • ‘Since then her home has been set on fire and her car torched once, stolen twice and broken into three times.’
      • ‘Giggling nervously, one girl lit a match and set a twig on fire.’
      light, ignite, kindle, set fire to, set on fire, set alight, set ablaze, put a match to, touch off, spark off, incinerate
      View synonyms
  • set the world on fire (also set the world alight)

    • Do something remarkable or sensational.

      ‘the film hasn't exactly set the world on fire’
      ‘the team includes great players who could set the world alight’
      succeed, achieve success, be successful, be a success, do well, get ahead, reach the top, become famous, achieve recognition, distinguish oneself, set the world on fire
      View synonyms
  • take fire

    • Start to burn.

      ‘petrol from the upturned car flooded across the street and took fire’
  • under fire

    • 1Being shot at.

      ‘observers sent to look for the men came under heavy fire’
      • ‘Sgt Cox showed personal courage and skill while under fire from hostile militia.’
      • ‘They were under fire from the enemy, but their service and skills were needed desperately.’
      • ‘It was one of the first beach landings of the war, and the Americans came under fire.’
      • ‘The following year Banting received the Military Cross for bravery under fire.’
      • ‘Instructions were, should the ship come under fire, to tend wounded regardless of their own safety.’
      • ‘At Pourville, too, the South Saskatchewan Regiment beached without coming under fire.’
      • ‘My unit is the first unit to build under fire since World War II over the Rhine River.’
      • ‘Armies would thus come under fire long before they could even see their enemy, let alone attack his positions.’
      • ‘He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in treating casualties under fire in the desert.’
      • ‘Many tales of Harrison's heroism and bravery under fire were retold by veterans.’
      1. 1.1Being rigorously criticized.
        ‘the president was under fire from all sides’
        • ‘Charter airlines based at Manchester Airport have come under fire in a critical consumer survey.’
        • ‘The society's leadership is now under fire from numerous critics in academia and the science community.’
        • ‘The penny seems to have dropped at head office, which has been under fire from critics for its woeful neglect of its European operations.’
        • ‘The four-sided, four metre-high sculpture came under fire from critics who branded it a waste of money.’
        • ‘The council is currently investigating the way it is run after coming under fire for its handling of a number of key issues in the town over the last year.’
        • ‘He is already under fire from critics in his own party for failing to return immediately to Washington once the hijackings got under way.’
        • ‘Actors, directors and critics all come under fire as we are invited to laugh at the melodramatic play within a play.’
        • ‘Plans for a £5 surcharge on speeding tickets to fund victim support services came under fire last night.’
        • ‘The government also came under fire for not putting enough resources into education and social services.’
        • ‘A public schools district plan to teach a bible course is coming under fire from critics.’
  • where's the fire?

    • informal Used to ask someone why they are in such a hurry or state of excitement.

      ‘‘Where's the fire?’ he demanded, as Sergeant Ellers turned on the siren’


Old English fȳr (noun), fȳrian ‘supply with material for a fire’, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vuur and German Feuer.