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[wahyld-fahyuh r] /ˈwaɪldˌfaɪər/
a highly flammable composition, as Greek fire, difficult to extinguish when ignited, formerly used in warfare.
any large fire that spreads rapidly and is hard to extinguish.
sheet lightning, unaccompanied by thunder.
the ignis fatuus or a similar light.
Plant Pathology. a disease of tobacco and soybeans, characterized by brown, necrotic spots, each surrounded by a yellow band, on the leaves and caused by a bacterium, Pseudomonas tabaci.
Pathology Obsolete. erysipelas or some similar disease.
Origin of wildfire
before 1000; Middle English wildefire, Old English wildfȳr. See wild, fire Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wildfire
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A final shake of the flaming mane, and as if wildfire's fury had shriveled her; had burnt both of them up, she and Bobby vanished.

    The Messenger Elizabeth Robins
  • The news will spread like wildfire over the town and county.

    A Girl of the Commune George Alfred Henty
  • The news spread like wildfire the instant Mrs. Crow released it.

    Anderson Crow, Detective George Barr McCutcheon
  • Word had already fled like wildfire through the hamlet that the squire was there.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Tidings of the coming wedding flew like wildfire through Lincolnshire.

British Dictionary definitions for wildfire


a highly flammable material, such as Greek fire, formerly used in warfare
  1. a raging and uncontrollable fire
  2. anything that is disseminated quickly (esp in the phrase spread like wildfire)
lightning without audible thunder
another name for will-o'-the-wisp
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wildfire

Old English, from wild (adj.) + fire (n.). Originally in reference to spreading skin diseases; meaning "destructive fire" is attested from early 12c.; figurative sense is recorded from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with wildfire


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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