Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “backfire”


verb [I] (HAVE BAD RESULT)   /ˈbækˌfɑɪər/
(of a plan) to have the opposite result from the one you intended: Some hotel owners worry that the idea of attracting more visitors may backfire and make the place less attractive.
(Definition of backfire verb (HAVE BAD RESULT) from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of backfire

More American English definitions for “backfire”

Definitions of “backfire” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day


friendly or helpful

Word of the Day


Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More