Middle English, from Old English fȳr; akin to Old High German fiur fire, Greek pyr
- Date: before 12th century
- 1 a (1) : the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame, and heat (2) : one of the four elements of the alchemists
- 2 a : fuel in a state of combustion (as on a hearth) b British : a small gas or electric space heater
- 3 a : a destructive burning (as of a building)
- 4 : brilliancy, luminosity <the fire of a gem>
- 5 a : the firing of weapons (as firearms, artillery, or missiles)
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.
The flame is the visible portion of the fire and consists of glowing hot gases. If hot enough, the gases may become ionized to produce plasma. Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and the fire's intensity might vary.
Fire in its most common form can result in conflagration, which has the potential to cause physical damage through burning. Fire is an important process that affects ecological systems across the globe. The positive effects of fire include stimulating growth and maintaining various ecological systems. Fire has been used by humans for cooking, generating heat, signaling, and propulsion purposes. The negative effects of fire include decreased water purity, increased soil erosion, an increase in atmospheric pollutants and an increased hazard to human life.