—n. 1. a state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat, and flame.
2. a burning mass of material, as on a hearth or in a furnace.
3. the destructive burning of a building, town, forest, etc.; conflagration.
4. heat used for cooking, esp. the lighted burner of a stove: Put the kettle on the fire. 5. See Greek fire. 6. flashing light; luminous appearance.
7. brilliance, as of a gem.
8. burning passion; excitement or enthusiasm; ardor.
9. liveliness of imagination.
10. fever or inflammation.
11. severe trial or trouble; ordeal.
12. exposure to fire as a means of torture or ordeal.
13. strength, as of an alcoholic beverage.
14. a spark or sparks.
15. the discharge of firearms: enemy fire. 16. the effect of firing military weapons: to pour fire upon the enemy. 17. Brit.a gas or electric heater used for heating a room.
18. Literary.a luminous object, as a star: heavenly fires. 19. between two fires, under physical or verbal attack from two or more sides simultaneously: The senator is between two fires because of his stand on the bill. 20. build a fire under,Informal.to cause or urge to take action, make a decision quickly, or work faster: If somebody doesn't build a fire under that committee, it will never reach a decision. 21. catch fire, a. Also,catch on fire.to become ignited; burn: The sofa caught fire from a lighted cigarette. b. to create enthusiasm: His new book did not catch fire among his followers. 22. fight fire with fire, to use the same tactics as one's opponent; return like for like.
23. go through fire and water, to brave any danger or endure any trial: He said he would go through fire and water to win her hand. 24. hang fire, a. to be delayed in exploding, or fail to explode.
b. to be undecided, postponed, or delayed: The new housing project is hanging fire because of concerted opposition. 25. miss fire, a. to fail to explode or discharge, as a firearm.
b. to fail to produce the desired effect; be unsuccessful: He repeated the joke, but it missed fire the second time. 26. on fire, a. ignited; burning; afire.
b. eager; ardent; zealous: They were on fire to prove themselves in competition. 27. play with fire, to trifle with a serious or dangerous matter: He didn't realize that insulting the border guards was playing with fire. 28. set fire to, a. to cause to burn; ignite.
b. to excite; arouse; inflame: The painting set fire to the composer's imagination.Also,set on fire. 29. take fire, a. to become ignited; burn.
b. to become inspired with enthusiasm or zeal: Everyone who heard him speak immediately took fire. 30. under fire, a. under attack, esp. by military forces.
b. under censure or criticism: The school administration is under fire for its policies.
—v.t. 1. to set on fire.
2. to supply with fuel; attend to the fire of: They fired the boiler. 3. to expose to the action of fire; subject to heat.
4. to apply heat to in a kiln for baking or glazing; burn.
5. to heat very slowly for the purpose of drying, as tea.
6. to inflame, as with passion; fill with ardor.
7. to inspire.
8. to light or cause to glow as if on fire.
9. to discharge (a gun).
10. to project (a bullet or the like) by or as if by discharging from a gun.
11. to subject to explosion or explosive force, as a mine.
12. to hurl; throw: to fire a stone through a window. 13. to dismiss from a job.
14. Vet. Med.to apply a heated iron to (the skin) in order to create a local inflammation of the superficial structures, with the intention of favorably affecting deeper inflammatory processes.
15. to drive out or away by or as by fire.
—v.i. 1. to take fire; be kindled.
2. to glow as if on fire.
3. to become inflamed with passion; become excited.
4. to shoot, as a gun.
5. to discharge a gun: to fire at a fleeing enemy. 6. to hurl a projectile.
7. Music.to ring the bells of a chime all at once.
8. (of plant leaves) to turn yellow or brown before the plant matures.
9. (of an internal-combustion engine) to cause ignition of the air-fuel mixture in a cylinder or cylinders.
10. (of a nerve cell) to discharge an electric impulse.
11. fire away,Informal.to begin to talk and continue without slackening, as to ask a series of questions: The reporters fired away at the president. 12. fire off, a. to discharge (as weapons, ammunition, etc.): Police fired off canisters of tear gas. b. to write and send hurriedly: She fired off an angry letter to her congressman.