catch fire

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catch fire (third-person singular simple present catches fire, present participle catching fire, simple past and past participle caught fire)

  1. (idiomatic) To become engulfed in flames, to combust.
    Synonyms: go up in flames, go up in smoke
    • 2023 November 15, Prof. Jim Wild, “This train was delayed because of bad weather in space”, in RAIL, number 996, page 30:
      Ships' logs noted observations of the northern lights as far south as the Caribbean, and telegraph systems across the world were disrupted as electrical currents were induced in the copper lines. Several telegraph operators received electric shocks and some telegraph stations even caught fire.
  2. (figurative) To become very popular or widespread; to take off.
    • 2002, Latifa Al-Zayyat, Marilyn Booth, The Open Door, page 9:
      The news caught fire through the school, and Layla found herself — a mere first-year student at the secondary school — the center of attention and admiration.
  3. (figurative) To be inspired by passion or zeal.