25 idioms and phrases about fire and burning

a baptism of fire – being pushed/tested in a new experience/position by having to deal with difficult or unexpected circumstances 

For example: I was given a million-dollar project to manage in my first month - it was a real baptism of fire.

burning – intense feeling 

For example: He spoke of his burning desire to play for his country.


ears are burning – subconsciously aware that you’re being talked about

For example: All this talk about Emma, her ears must be burning.

fire and brimstone – used to mean the threat of Hell (or damnation - punishment that lasts for ever) after death

For example: the priests sermon was full of fire and brimstone.

Fire away! – an expression that's used to indicate to someone that they can begin asking questions 

For example: OK, let's start the meeting. Fire away with your questions.

fired-up – enthusiastic, stimulated, energised

For example: The players were all fired-up before their big game.

on fire – excited, on a roll  

For example: Man United are on fire/on a roll at the moment. They've won their last ten games.

out of the frying pan into the fire – from a bad situation into a worse one

For example: He's with another crazy girlfriend. It's like he jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it! – a rude way of telling someone that they must accept what you have just said, even if they do not like it

For example:  As for rules, the only person who makes rules in this house is me. So you can tell Miss Underwood from me: she can put that in her pipe and smoke it.

smoke and mirrors – obscuring the truth using misdirection

For example: The president claims that his economic plan is free of the smoke and mirrors that have characterised earlier budget plans.

to add fuel to the fire – to intensify a situation or conflict 

For example: If he senses you are fearful or angry this will add fuel to the fire


to blaze a trail – to be the first to do something in a particular field

For example: These surgeons have blazed the trail in the treatment of bomb victims.

to breathe fire – to be extremely angry

For example: Don't upset your mother. She'll be breathing fire again.

to have money burning a hole in your pocket – to have money that you are tempted to spend

For example: Jeff Bezos has a huge amount of cash burning a hole in his pocket. 

to burn bridges – to do something that means it's impossible to go back to a previous state 

For example: You can't ask him for help again. You burned those bridges when you lied to him.


to burn yourself out – to become exhausted or unwell though overwork

For example: I've been working double shifts all week. I'm going to burn myself out.

to fire someone/to get fired – to tell someone they have lost their job/to lose your job

For example: They caught Jen stealing. She will definitely get fired.

to go through fire and water – to face any danger

For example: I would go/walk through fire and water to find my children if they were taken from me.

to go up in smoke – to come to nothing (in reference to a plan or idea)

For example: Unfortunately, our plans to build our own house have gone up in smoke. Jen lost her job.

to have fire in your belly – to be determined/ambitious 

For example: They liked Kim. She was confident and had fire in her belly

to light a fire under someone – to inspire or scare someone into working harder

For example: David is slipping behind at school. Someone needs to light a fire under him otherwise he'll fail this year.

to play with fire – to take a foolish risk 

For example: Children are always playing with fire. One day they'll get burned.

to set the world alight/on fire – to do something remarkable 

For example: Usain Bolt really set the world alight/on fire when he broke the 100 and 200m world record.

to smoke like a chimney – to smoke nonstop (in reference to tobacco smoking)

For example: My grandmother smokes like a chimney. From the moment she wakes in the morning until she goes to bed. She doesn't stop to breathe!

where there is smoke there is fire – rumours usually originate in some form or truth

For example: Problems like this don't start from nowhere. Where there's smoke there is fire.

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