Definition of backfire in English:


Syllabification: back·fire
Pronunciation: /ˈbakˌfī(ə)r


[no object]
  • 1(Of an engine) undergo a mistimed explosion in the cylinder or exhaust: a car backfired in the road
    More example sentences
    • It was far too loud to be attributed to a car engine backfiring, and immediately drew the clientele to rush like moths against the window.
    • The car engine backfired in three sudden bursts as they drove off.
    • Deafening car stereos, honking horns and noises like gun shots ring out as hundreds of drivers deliberately make their car engines backfire.
  • 2(Of a plan or action) rebound adversely on the originator; have the opposite effect to what was intended: overzealous publicity backfired on her
    More example sentences
    • Due to the uprising the plan has backfired on an epic scale.
    • Nothing can serious happen to them, as they are locked in their battle, and the worst thing that can happen is their plan backfiring.
    • Never before has a devious little plan backfired so badly.


Back to top  
  • 1A mistimed explosion in the cylinder or exhaust of a vehicle or engine.
    More example sentences
    • My favourites are still the RX7 rotaries, which give magnificent flameouts and backfires from the exhaust when the drivers lift their foot off the accelerator.
    • On the battlefield, this engine produced a loud backfire when starting, instantly drawing enemy fire.
    • However, just a few days later the aircraft suffered serious damage following a fire started by an engine backfire.
  • 2North American A fire set intentionally to arrest the progress of an approaching fire by creating a burned area in its path, thus depriving the fire of fuel.
    More example sentences
    • Fires were initially started as backfires to blacken areas adjacent to firelines.
    • Most flame weeders on the market are the same ones used by fire fighters to set backfires.
    • For both fires, portions of the barrens sample area were burned by the backfire flame while other portions were burned by a more intense headfire.

More definitions of backfire

Definition of backfire in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day milord
Pronunciation: mɪˈlɔːd
used to address an English nobleman