Meaning of “fire” in the English Dictionary

"fire" in British English

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uk /faɪər/ us /faɪr/

fire noun (FLAMES)

A2 [ C or U ] (material that is in) the state of burning that produces flames that send out heat and light, and might produce smoke:

Animals are usually afraid of fire.
The fire was started by children playing with matches.
40 people helped to put out (= stop) the fire.
The library was badly damaged in the fire.
How many historic buildings are damaged by fire each year?
She had to be rescued when her house caught (US caught on) fire (= started to burn).

B1 [ C ] a small controlled fire that is used for heating or cooking:

It's very cold in here - should I light a fire?
We built a fire on the beach.
We put up our tents and made a small fire.
on fire

B1 If something is on fire, it is burning when it should not be:

If your home was on fire and you could save only one thing, what would it be?

[ C ] UK a gas or electric heater that is used to warm up a room:

a gas/electric fire
If you're cold just put the fire on.

More examples

  • Both buildings were badly affected by the fire.
  • My cat likes dozing in front of the fire.
  • The fire was thought to have been caused by a gas explosion.
  • The dry weather has increased the risk of brush fires.
  • The flames grew larger as the fire spread.


uk /faɪər/ us /faɪr/

fire verb (SHOOT)

B2 [ I or T ] to cause a weapon to shoot bullets, arrows, or missiles:

He fired his gun into the air.
Someone started firing at us.
Without warning he started firing into the crowd.
I just prayed that he would stop firing.
The ambassador denied that any missiles had been fired across the border.

[ T or I ] to direct a series of questions or criticisms at someone:

The journalists were firing questions at me for two whole hours.
"I'd like to ask you some questions about your childhood." "Fire away!" (= You can start asking them now.)

More examples

  • The soldiers were ordered to fire only as a last resort.
  • The initial cloud of tear gas had hardly cleared before shots were fired.
  • He fired six shots at the target, but his aim was terrible, and he missed all of them.
  • The rebels were firing anti-tank rockets.
  • The soldiers have been ordered to desist from firing their guns.

fire verb (REMOVE FROM A JOB)

B2 [ T ] to remove someone from their job, either because they have done something wrong or badly, or as a way of saving the cost of employing them:

She was fired after she was caught stealing from her employer.
He was fired from his $165,000 job for poor performance.
She has just been fired as editor of the newspaper.
The company is reducing its workforce by firing 500 employees.

More examples

  • He started feeling paranoid and was convinced his boss was going to fire him.
  • They have the power to hire and fire managers.
  • They fired him when they found out he had a criminal record.
  • He's lucky that he wasn't fired.
  • After years of loyal service, his boss gave him the shaft by firing him just before he would have qualified for a pension.

(Definition of “fire” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"fire" in American English

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us /fɑɪər/

fire noun (FLAMES)

[ C/U ] the state of burning, or a burning mass of material:

[ U ] The factory had to be closed because the risk of fire was too great.
[ C ] There have been a lot of forest fires because of the drought.
[ C ] The library was badly damaged in the fire.
[ U ] The theater was destroyed by fire.
[ C ] Over a hundred volunteers were needed to put out the fire (= stop it).

[ C/U ] A fire is also a small controlled mass of burning material that is used for heating or cooking:

[ C ] Light a fire in the fireplace.
on fire

If something is on fire, it is burning, esp. when it is not meant to be:

By the time the firefighters arrived, the whole house was on fire.

fire noun (SHOOTING)

[ U ] the act of shooting bullets or other explosives from a weapon:

The troops were ordered to cease fire (= stop shooting).

fire noun (EMOTION)

[ U ] strong emotion:

The fire in her speech inspired everyone to carry on in spite of recent setbacks.


us /fɑɪər/

fire verb (SHOOT)

[ I/T ] to shoot bullets or other explosives from a weapon:

[ T ] He fired his gun into the air.
[ I ] The soldiers began firing.
[ T ] fig. The journalists kept firing questions at the president (= asking him questions quickly one after the other).
[ I ] fig. "I’d like to ask you some personal questions." "Fire away (= You can start immediately)!"

fire verb (LOSE JOB)

[ T ] to order someone to give up his or her job:

She was fired for stealing from her employer.

fire verb (EXCITE)

[ T ] to cause a strong emotion in someone:

She’s all fired up (= excited) about going to college.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “fire” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"fire" in Business English

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fireverb [ T ]

uk /faɪər/ us UK also sack

HR to make someone leave their job, especially because they have done something wrong:

fire sb for sth He was told that he was being fired for revealing confidential information.
be fired from sth She was fired from her job because of poor attendance.
The problem for City Council is that we do not have the authority to hire and fire employees.

(Definition of “fire” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)