- 1 [uncountable] the flames, light and heat, and often smoke, that are produced when something burns Most animals are afraid of fire.
- 2 [uncountable, countable] flames that are out of control and destroy buildings, trees, etc. The car was now on fire. The warehouse has been badly damaged by fire. Several youths had set fire to the police car (= had made it start burning). A candle had set the curtains on fire. These thatched roofs frequently catch fire (= start to burn). forest fires Five people died in a house fire last night. A small fire had started in the kitchen. Fires were breaking out everywhere. It took two hours to put out the fire (= stop it burning). for heating/cooking
- 3 [countable] a pile of burning fuel, such as wood or coal, used for cooking food or heating a room to make/build a fire a log/coal fire Sam had lit a fire to welcome us home. Come and get warm by the fire. We sat in front of a roaring fire. see also bonfire, campfire
- 4 [countable] (especially British English) a piece of equipment for heating a room a gas/electric fire Shall I put the fire on? see also heater from guns
- 5 [uncountable] shots from guns a burst of machine-gun fire to return fire (= to fire back at somebody who is shooting at you) The gunmen opened fire on (= started shooting at) the police. Their vehicle came under fire (= was being shot at). He ordered his men to hold their fire (= not to shoot). A young girl was in the line of fire (= between the person shooting and what he/she was shooting at). I’ll give you covering fire while you try to escape. See related entries: Conflict anger/enthusiasm
- 6[uncountable] very strong emotion, especially anger or enthusiasm Her eyes were full of fire. The fire seemed to die in him when his wife left. Word Origin Old English fȳr (noun), fȳrian ‘supply with material for a fire’, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vuur and German Feuer.Extra examples A few soldiers were sent out to draw the enemy’s fire. A few soldiers were sent out to draw= attract the enemy’s fire. A fire broke out in the mail room. A fire roaring in the hearth added warmth to the room. A lantern was knocked over and the barn caught fire. A missile ignited a fire that burned for three days. Although it was summer a fire burned in the great stone hearth. Call the fire brigade/department! Enemy fire continued to rain down. Fire crews arrived and began to fight the flames. Firefighters have now managed to bring the fire under control. Firefighters struggled to control the fire. Foam-filled couches are a serious fire hazard. Frustrated ambitions can fuel the fire of anger and resentment. Groups of rioters attacked and set the police headquarters on fire. He joined the crowds of men and women fighting the fire. In 1925 a disastrous fire swept through the museum. In 2008, the fire season started with a huge fire in New Mexico. Is the fire still on? Kim had managed to kindle a little fire of dry grass. On cold nights we stoked up the fire to a blaze. Put some more wood on the fire. Several soldiers were killed in friendly fire due a mistake by allied forces. She fed the fire with the branches next to her. She returned fire from behind the low wall. Someone had set fire to her car. Strong winds fanned the fire. The EU came under fire from the US over its biotech policy. The building suffered extensive fire damage. The commandos pushed forward under the covering fire of their artillery. The factory was destroyed in a fire started by arsonists. The fire burned for three days before it was finally contained. The fire gutted the building, leaving just a charred shell. The fire licked the roof of the house. The fire smoked instead of burning properly. The fire was beginning to die down. The interior was only lit by the golden glow of the fire. The minister of transport came under fire for forcing increases in rail fares. The sprinkler system came on and doused the fire. The thief got away down the fire escape. The troops opened fire on the crowd. They were told to hold their fire until the enemy came closer. Unfortunately he was in the line of fire and got shot. Unfortunately he was in the line of fire= between the people shooting and what they were shooting at and got shot. Use a match to light the gas fire. We had plenty of dry wood, so the fire lit easily. We have regular fire drills to ensure that the staff know how to evacuate the building. We were under constant fire from enemy snipers. When we go on safari we like to cook on an open fire. fire code violations legislation related to fire safety A candle had set the curtains on fire. Fires were breaking out everywhere. He returned with a new kind of fire in his belly, determined to win. It took several days to bring the forest fires under control. It took two hours to put out the fire. Several youths had set fire to the police car. Something of the old fire had returned to their rivalry. The car was now on fire. The fire seemed to die in him when his wife died. There’s a small gas fire under the mantelpiece. These thatched roofs frequently catch fire. We sat in front of a roaring fire. Who’s going to build the fire?Idioms (informal) a person who is full of energy and enthusiasm a difficult introduction to a new job or activity See related entries: Religious ceremonies to be criticized severely for something you have done The health minister has come under fire from all sides. to make somebody direct their anger, criticism, etc. at you, so that others do not have to face it to use similar methods in a fight or an argument to those your opponent is using
(informal) (of people) to become friends quickly and have a very friendly relationship See related entries: Friends to delay or be delayed in taking action The project had hung fire for several years for lack of funds. to be involved in several activities or areas of business at the same time, hoping that at least one will be successful
(saying) if something bad is being said about somebody/something, it usually has some truth in it giving you a painful burning feeling He couldn't breathe. His chest was on fire. (saying) from a bad situation to one that is worse to act in a way that is not sensible and take dangerous risks
(informal) (usually used in negative sentences) to be very successful and gain the admiration of other people He's never going to set the world on fire with his paintings.