Definition of Greek fire in English:

Share this entry

Greek fire

Pronunciation: /ɡrēk ˈfī(ə)r/


A combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon and used to set light to enemy ships. It was first used by the Greeks besieged in Constantinople (673–78). 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

Syllabification: 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.