Definition of backfire in English:


Line breaks: back|fire


Pronunciation: /bakˈfʌɪə
[no object]
  • 1(Of a vehicle or its engine) undergo a mistimed explosion in the cylinder or exhaust: a car backfired in the road and shoppers ducked instinctively
    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) have an opposite and undesirable 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.
    rebound, boomerang, come back, have an adverse effect; have unwelcome repercussions for, cause one to be hoist with one's own petard, be self-defeating, be counterproductive; fail, miscarry, go wrong
    informal blow up in someone's face
    archaic redound on


Pronunciation: /ˈbakfʌɪə
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  • 1A mistimed explosion in the cylinder or exhaust of a vehicle or engine: once the engine is running smoothly, a backfire can be dramatic
    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 started deliberately to stop the progress of an approaching fire by creating a burned area in its path.
    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.

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Word of the day skosh
Pronunciation: skəʊʃ
a small amount; a little