backfire

Use the word backfire when you talk about the sound a car makes when a small explosion in its exhaust system pops — sometimes as loudly as a gunshot.

Hearing a car's backfire can make you jump, because it makes a sharp, shot-like sound. A backfire is usually caused by unburned fuel, and it can be accompanied by a burst of flame and a brief loss of power in the vehicle, as well as a fairly loud noise. The word comes from an American English term that originally referred to a fire deliberately set to slow the progress of a prairie or forest fire.

Definitions of backfire
  1. noun
    a loud noise made by the explosion of fuel in the manifold or exhaust of an internal combustion engine
    see moresee less
    type of:
    blowup, detonation, explosion
    a violent release of energy caused by a chemical or nuclear reaction
  2. noun
    the backward escape of gases and unburned gunpowder after a gun is fired
    synonyms: blowback
    see moresee less
    types:
    back-blast, backblast
    backfire from a recoilless weapon
    type of:
    blowup, detonation, explosion
    a violent release of energy caused by a chemical or nuclear reaction
  3. verb
    emit a loud noise as a result of undergoing a backfire
    “My old car backfires all the time”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    make noise, noise, resound
    emit a noise
  4. verb
    come back to the originator of an action with an undesired effect
    “Your comments may backfire and cause you a lot of trouble”
    synonyms: backlash, recoil
  5. noun
    a miscalculation that recoils on its maker
    synonyms: boomerang
    see moresee less
    type of:
    miscalculation, misestimation, misreckoning
    a mistake in calculating
  6. noun
    a fire that is set intentionally in order to slow an approaching forest fire or grassfire by clearing a burned area in its path
    see moresee less
    type of:
    fire
    the event of something burning (often destructive)
  7. verb
    set a controlled fire to halt an advancing forest or prairie fire
    see moresee less
    type of:
    burn, burn down, fire
    destroy by fire
Word Family