Meaning of “firm” in the English Dictionary

"firm" in British English

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uk /fɜːm/ us /fɝːm/

firm adjective (HARD)

B2 not soft but not completely hard:

I'd rather sleep on a firm mattress than a soft one.
These pears are still too firm to eat.

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firm adjective (FIXED)

well fixed in place or position:

The bridge provided a firm platform for the bungee jumpers.

fixed at the same level or opinion and not changing:

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firm adjective (STRONG)

C2 strong and tight:

a firm handshake
Keep a firm hold of the handrail as you go down.
figurative No one seems to have a firm grip on the company at the moment.
figurative You need a firm grasp of mathematics to become an astronaut.

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firmnoun [ C ]

uk /fɜːm/ us /fɝːm/

B1 a company or business:

He works for a law firm called Neil and Vigliano.
He's just started working for an accountancy firm/a firm of accountants in Cambridge.

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uk /fɜːm/ us /fɝːm/

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

"firm" in American English

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firmadjective, adverb [ -er/-est only ]

us /fɜrm/

firm adjective, adverb [ -er/-est only ] (FIXED)

set in place and unable or unlikely to move, come loose, or fall over:

The rocks were wet, and we couldn’t get a firm footing.
fig. Sometimes it takes more courage to admit you’re wrong than to stand firm (= continue to defend an opinion).
fig. The dean is holding firm and refusing to give in to student demands.

firmadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /fɜrm/

firm adjective [ -er/-est only ] (HARD)

not soft when pressed; solid or strong:

a firm mattress
a firm body
fig. No one seems to have a firm grip on (= be in control of) the situation at the moment.

firm adjective [ -er/-est only ] (CERTAIN)

certain or fixed in a belief, opinion, etc., and unlikely to change, or so certain as to be beyond doubt or question:

a firm believer in the Constitution
They made a firm commitment to complete the job this week.
The decision is firm – there will be a strike.

Firm can also mean showing control and making sure you will be obeyed:

A new teacher has to be firm with her students.

firmnoun [ C ]

us /fɜrm/

firm noun [ C ] (BUSINESS)

a company or business:

a law firm

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

"firm" in Business English

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firmnoun [ C ]

uk /fɜːm/ us

WORKPLACE a company or business:

The firm's share price has been rising steadily.
The firm remains heavily dependent on North America, its biggest market.
big/medium-sized/small firm Small and medium-sized firms accounted for 69.8% of the UK business population.
leading/major/top firm He hired a top firm of architects and re-mortgaged the family home to finance the project.
accounting/law/manufacturing, etc. firm Local manufacturing firms are under heavy competitive pressure, often from off-shore production.
set up/start (up)/establish a firm Her grandfather had set up the firm soon after the war.
run/manage a firm The firm was run from an office in Bolton.
She joined the family firm soon after leaving school.


uk /fɜːm/ us

agreed or decided and not likely to change:

firm date/deadline I was given a firm deadline of April 30.
firm bid/commitment The group said it has a firm commitment to sell two radio stations in Chicago to minority partners.
firm order/offer They already have firm orders for much of the new stock.
firm decision We haven't made a firm decision as yet.

FINANCE used to describe a price or level that is high and is likely to rise or stay high:

Home prices are edging higher as builders pay record prices for lumber, and tight supplies should keep prices firm next year.
See also
hold firm

to remain at a high level:

Top share prices held firm through to the close, with the main index up 27.8.
noun [ U ]

the firmness of the bond market

firmverb [ I ]

uk /fɜːm/ us

FINANCE to remain at the same level, amount, etc. or to rise slightly:

In industries such as paper, chemicals, and steel, prices have firmed.
firm to sth Copper firmed 1.8 cents to 142.1 cents a pound.
firm against sth The dollar, meanwhile, firmed against the euro in the wake of the interest rate rise.
Bank shares firmed on expectations that the Reserve Bank would leave interest rates untouched.

Phrasal verb(s)

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