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A wildfire
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From wild +‎ fire. In the Middle Ages, the term referred to the Greek fire.


IPA(key): /ˈwaɪəldˌfaɪɝ/


wildfire (countable and uncountable, plural wildfires)

  1. A rapidly spreading fire, especially one occurring in a wildland area.
  2. (historical) Greek fire, Byzantine fire.
  3. A spreading disease of the skin, particularly erysipelas.
  4. (figuratively) Something that acts quickly and uncontrollably.
    • 2015 January 18, Monty Munford, “What’s the point of carrying a mobile phone nowadays?”, in The Daily Telegraph[1]:
      So, it appears a revolution has happened and a very unexpected one. Of course it was only a matter of time before it happened. With WiFi connectivity spreading faster than wildfire and a laptop or tablet in one’s bag, what’s the point of a mobile nowadays?


  • 1622, Thomas Dekker; Philip Massinger, The Virgin Martyr:
    The.     Do not blow, / The Furnace of a wrath thrice hot already; / Ætna is in my brest, wildfire burns here, / Which onely bloud must quench []
  • 1715, Floyer; Edward Baynard, Psychrolousia (Or, the History of Cold Bathing: Both Ancient and Modern):
    Where are [] the Aunts that do as much for their Nieces, and make them caper and sparkle like Wildfire?
  • 1715, Francisco de Quevedo, The Visions of Dom Francisco de Quevedo:
    I slept very disturbedly, and had a quick high towring Pulse; had strange Flashes in my Blood, like Wild-fire, which I could perceive in my Face, Neck, Breast, and extream Parts.


Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit


  • 1862, Martim de Albuquerque, Notes and Queries.
  • “Greek Fire”, in Encyclopædia Britannica[2], 1911, retrieved 2018-08-30