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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Example sentences
The idea is that no matter what goodness someone tries to bring into the world,
  the intentions will ultimately backfire.
However, new research into one threatened animal suggests that the approach can
  sometimes backfire.
Something as simple as requiring bicyclists to wear helmets can backfire in
  surprising ways.
Few romantic come-ons backfire more humiliatingly than come-ons picked up from
  books or movies.
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