• WordNet 3.6
    • v backfire set a controlled fire to halt an advancing forest to prairie fire
    • v backfire emit a loud noise as a result of undergoing a backfire "My old car backfires all the time"
    • v backfire come back to the originator of an action with an undesired effect "Your comments may backfire and cause you a lot of trouble"
    • n backfire a miscalculation that recoils on its maker
    • n backfire a fire that is set intentionally in order to slow an approaching forest fire or grassfire by clearing a burned area in its path
    • n backfire a loud noise made by the explosion of fuel in the manifold or exhaust of an internal combustion engine
    • n backfire the backward escape of gases and unburned gunpowder after a gun is fired
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • backfire A fire started ahead of a forest or prairie fire to burn only against the wind, so that when the two fires meet both must go out for lack of fuel.
    • backfire A premature explosion in the cylinder of a gas or oil engine during the exhaust or the compression stroke, tending to drive the piston in a direction reverse to that in which it should travel; also called a knock or ping.
    • backfire an explosion in the exhaust passages of an internal combustion engine.
    • Backfire Of a Bunsen or similar air-fed burner, to light so that the flame proceeds from the internal gas jet instead of from the external jet of mixed gas and air.
    • Backfire (Engin) To have or experience a back fire or back fires; -- said of an internal-combustion engine.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • backfire To stop an advancing fire by setting in front of it, or around threatened buildings, woods, etc., another fire, which is then beaten out, thus producing a protective burnt area.
    • backfire To light before the proper time: said specifically of a gas-engine when the charge explodes before the admission-valve closes, thus making an explosion in the admission-passage, or before the working-piston reaches its dead-center, which it must do before beginning its working stroke. See back-firing.
    • n backfire A fire started purposely some distance ahead of a fire which is to be fought. The back-fire is often so set as to burn against the wind, so that when the two fires meet, both must go out for lack of fuel. Also called counter-fire.
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In literature:

When Pete jumped in and threw in the clutch, there was a backfire that sounded like the crack of doom.
"Jean of the Lazy A" by B. M. Bower
He got three chugs and a backfire into the carburetor, and after that silence.
"Cabin Fever" by B. M. Bower
The firemen checked the advance of flames by dynamiting two large residences and then backfiring.
"Complete Story of the San Francisco Horror" by Richard Linthicum
Mr. Dilly was in the Woodruff District to build a backfire against this conflagration of the county superintendent.
"The Brown Mouse" by Herbert Quick
He was dropping off to sleep when he heard what he thought was a car backfiring outside.
"Jerry's Charge Account" by Hazel Hutchins Wilson
The only people around here that can make presents this year were smart enough to backfire.
"The Biography of a Prairie Girl" by Eleanor Gates
You see, it's my idea that Holmes is starting this as a sort of backfire.
"The Camp Fire Girls in the Mountains" by Jane L. Stewart
The truck was sputtering and backfiring, pouring out rank smoke as they reached it.
"A Yankee Flier Over Berlin" by Al Avery
He soon started a backfire in Quebec which brought Cartier to terms.
"The Railway Builders" by Oscar D. Skelton
The violent emotional stress causes a sort of backfiring of the mind, if you see what I mean.
"The Eyes Have It" by Gordon Randall Garrett

In news:

Charity could actually backfire on the very people we mean to help.
' Compassionate ' Measure Could Well Backfire.
Davenport 's reloading backfires for a night as long home winning streak ends.
But for a teenager in Arkansas, a texting prank backfired when she joked about hiding a dead body , and sent the text prank to a random local number.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bluff, a move that could backfire on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza straining to survive an onslaught of Israeli rockets.
And they usually backfire which this one did.
Can you name a situation when somebody was dishonest and it backfired on them.
Eastern Elementary Students Say Bullying Backfires.
Will China's Great Firewall backfire.
But it backfires, and eating terrible-for-your-health foods amps up inflammation, stressing out your body and brain.
Like most second chances, this one has backfired.
'Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: Kathy's hot tub diplomacy backfires in a big way.
Interest-rate swap strategy backfires, costs city $186M.
German man's stress-calming naked walk backfires.
11-7-12: Perdue Poultry Trial Could Set Precedent or Backfire.