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Definition of "backfire" []

  • An explosion of prematurely ignited fuel or of unburned exhaust gases in an internal-combustion engine. (noun)
  • The backward escape of gases or cartridge fragments when a gun is fired. (noun)
  • A fire started in the path of an oncoming fire in order to deprive it of fuel and thereby control or extinguish it. (noun)
  • To explode in the manner of or make the sound of a backfire. (verb-intransitive)
  • To start or use a backfire in extinguishing or controlling a forest fire. (verb-intransitive)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "backfire" in a sentence
  • "The backfire from a bread truck coming around the corner was too close for comfort when I realized what was happening."
  • "What will backfire is when Reps link Obama to Carter."
  • "The phenomenon - known as "backfire" - is "a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.""