See also: back fire


English Wikipedia has articles on:


From back + fire.


  • (verb) IPA(key): /bækˈfaɪə(ɹ)/, /ˈbækfaɪə(ɹ)/
  • (file)
  • (noun) IPA(key): /ˈbækfaɪə(ɹ)/
  • (file)


backfire (third-person singular simple present backfires, present participle backfiring, simple past and past participle backfired)

  1. (of a gun, cannon, Bunsen burner, etc.) To fire in the opposite direction, for example due to an obstruction in the barrel.
  2. (of an engine) To experience a premature ignition of fuel or an ignition of exhaust gases, making a popping sound.
  3. To fail in a manner that brings down further misfortune.
    His attempt to make money by importing luxury cars backfired horribly when fuel prices tripled.
    Her plan backfired on her.



backfire (plural backfires)

  1. (firefighting) Alternative spelling of back fire
  2. A premature explosion in the cylinder of a gas or oil engine during the exhaust or the compression stroke, tending to drive the piston in the wrong direction.
  3. An explosion in the exhaust passages of an internal combustion engine.
  4. An explosion in other equipment.
    • 1962 July, “Failures of multiple-unit electric trains on British Railways”, in Modern Railways, page 53:
      The chief causes of rectifier backfiring in the Glasgow units were overheating or unfavourable anode/cathode temperature differential; it has proved possible to overcome these, although occasional backfires do still occur.


  • (premature explosion in engine cylinder): knock, ping

Derived termsEdit