Definition of Greek fire in English:

Share this entry

Greek fire


[mass noun] historical
A combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon, used to set light to enemy ships. It was first used by the Greeks besieged in Constantinople (673-8). It ignited on contact with water, and was probably based on naphtha and quicklime.
Example sentences
  • In 1139 the Second Lateran Council decreed that Greek fire and similar burning weapons were ‘too murderous ‘to be used in Europe.’
  • Their navy first threatened Constantinople in 654, Greek fire being one of the weapons used to defeat this and subsequent armadas.
  • The defenders of the castle were killed off by hunger, plague, or actual weapons such as Greek fire arrows.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Greek fire

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.