Elements of the Universe: Pyr, Pyro ("Fire")

The ancients believed that the universe was composed of five basic elements: earth, air, fire, water, and sky. The Greek and Latin words for these elements still show up in our language today. Learn these words that come from the Greek word pyr, meaning "fire."

Here are links to our complete set of Elements of the Universe lists: Cosm, Cosmo ("Universe") / Terr, Terra ("Earth") / Geo ("Earth") / Hydr, Hydro ("Water") / Aqua ("Water") / Ign, Igni ("Fire") / Pyr, Pyro ("Fire") / Aer, Aero ("Air") / Aether ("Sky") / Aster, Astro ("Star") / Sol ("Sun")
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. pyre
    wood heaped for burning a dead body as a funeral rite
    She began to circle the funeral pyre three times clockwise, trying to quell the apprehension bubbling inside her.Huntress
  2. pyromania
    an uncontrollable desire to set fire to things
    Pyromania is sometimes pleaded as a defense for arson.?Malley, Austin
    pyr + mania ("madness or enthusiasm")
  3. pyromancy
    divination by fire or flames
    As for magic, necromancy, pyromancy, geomancy, coscinomancy, and all the other mancies—there was then a whole literature about them. Kingsley, Charles
    pyr + mancy (suffix meaning "divination by means of")
  4. pyrotechnic
    a device with an explosive with colored flames
    Kids are lamenting the cancellation of Independence Day fireworks — not that pyrotechnics show up all that well anyway under the midnight sun.Los Angeles Times (Jul 5, 2019)
    pyr + tekhne (art) + ics (suffix forming names of disciplines)
    Pyrotechnic is another word for "firework"; in the plural, the word can also refer to the craft of making fireworks.
  5. pyrolysis
    transformation of a substance produced by the action of heat
    The new incinerators use technologies known as gasification, plasma arc, and pyrolysis.Scientific American (Apr 3, 2014)
    pyr + lysis ("loosening")
  6. pyrolusite
    a mineral consisting of manganese dioxide
    Manganese is found in nature chiefly as the dioxide MnO2, called pyrolusite.McPherson, William
  7. pyrexia
    a rise in the temperature of the body
    It was accompanied by pyrexia, gastroenteritis, deep-seated pains in limbs and body, and burning and pricking of the skin.Various
  8. pyracanth
    any of various thorny shrubs of the genus Pyracantha bearing small white flowers followed by hard red or orange-red berries
    In the rougher hedges, dogwood, honeysuckle, pyracanth, and acacia made a network of white bloom and blushes.Brown, Horatio Robert Forbes
    pyr + akantha (thorn)
  9. empyrean
    of or relating to the sky or heavens
    Still, there was no prohibition, earthly or empyrean, on laymen entering the ranks, and, here and there, they did.The New Yorker (Oct 28, 2018)
  10. Pyrex
    a borosilicate glass with a low coefficient of expansion
    There was less sinking when I used a Pyrex dish, but a metal pan is fine, too.Washington Post (Aug 29, 2018)
    pyr + rex ("king")
    Glass with a low coefficient of expansion is less likely to crack when heated. This makes it useful for cookware.
  11. Pyrenees
    a chain of mountains between France and Spain
    Tiny Andorra, which has a population of 85,000, is wedged between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains.US News (Mar 11, 2015)
  12. pyrrhic
    relating to a victory that is offset by staggering losses
    Napoleon then marched into Moscow, but it was a Pyrrhic victory; only approximately 90,000 French soldiers remained.Slate (Dec 11, 2012)
    This term comes from the name of Pyrrhus of Epirus, who defeated the Romans in battle but suffered devastating casualties.
Created on August 14, 2015 (updated August 26, 2019)

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