verb (used without object), backfired, backfiring.
(of an internal-combustion engine) to have a loud, premature explosion in the intake manifold.
to bring a result opposite to that which was planned or expected: The plot backfired.
to start a fire deliberately in order to check a forest or prairie fire by creating a barren area in advance of it.
(in an internal-combustion engine) premature ignition of fuel in the intake manifold.
an explosion coming out of the breech of a firearm.
a fire started intentionally to check the advance of a forest or prairie fire.

1775–85, Americanism; back2 + fire

2. miscarry, boomerang; flop, bomb, wash out. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
backfire (ˌbækˈfaɪə)
1.  (of an internal-combustion engine) to emit a loud noise as a result of an explosion in the inlet manifold or exhaust system
2.  (of an endeavour, plan, etc) to have an unwanted effect on its perpetrator: his plans backfired on him
3.  to start a controlled fire in order to halt an advancing forest or prairie fire by creating a barren area
4.  in an internal-combustion engine
 a.  an explosion of unburnt gases in the exhaust system
 b.  a premature explosion in a cylinder or inlet manifold
5.  a controlled fire started to create a barren area that will halt an advancing forest or prairie fire

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1839, Amer.Eng., originally "a fire deliberately lit ahead of an advancing prairie fire to deprive it of fuel," from back + fire (v.). As a verb in this sense, recorded from 1886. The meaning "premature ignition in an internal-combustion engine" is
first recorded 1897. Of schemes, plans, etc., "affect the initiator rather than the intended object" it is attested from 1912, a fig. use from the accidental back-firing of firearms.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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