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Fireworks (sense 2) over the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, during APEC Australia 2007
Fourth of July fireworks (sense 2) in 2006 at Macomb, Illinois, USA


From fire +‎ work(s). The similarity with Dutch vuurwerk and German Feuerwerk, both “fireworks”, is hardly coincidental. Since the word was apparently first attested in English circa 1575,[1] probably from the Dutch (1540), from the German (sense early 16th c.), from Middle High German viurwerc (14th c. as “fuel, firewood”). A spread from the south northwards is also in line with the fact that the first European fireworks were produced in Italy in the late 14th century.




  1. plural of firework.


fireworks pl (plural only)

  1. (plural only) An event or a display where fireworks are set off.
    • 1749, A Description of the Machine for the Fireworks, with All Its Ornaments, and a Detail of the Manner in which They are to be Exhibited in St. James's Park, Thursday, April 27, 1749, on Account of the General Peace, Signed at Aix La Chappelle, October 7, 1748. Published by Order of His Majesty's Board of Ordnance, London: Printed by W[illiam] Bowyer [for Gaetano Ruggieri and Gioseppe Sarti], sold by R[obert] Dodsley at Tully's Head in Pall Mall, and M. Cooper in Pater-Noster-Row, and the booksellers in London and Westminster, OCLC 642278231, page 13:
      5000 Marrons in Battery, which continue firing to the End of the Fireworks.
    • 1974, Angela Carter, “A Souvenir of Japan”, in Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces, London: Quartet Books, →ISBN:
      By now, a great many people were walking towards the fireworks but their steps fell so softly and they chatted in such gentle voices there was no more noise than a warm, continual, murmurous humming, the cosy should of shared happiness, and the night filled with a muted, bourgeois yet authentic magic. Above our heads, the fireworks hung dissolving earrings on the night. Soon we lay down in a stubbled field to watch the fireworks.
    • 2005, Christopher Hogwood, “Politics and Power”, in Handel: Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks (Cambridge Music Handbooks), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 77:
      [T]he fireworks were irretrievably connected with the establishment and political success, and tried to bridge the gap to public favour; just as Water Music helped keep the King's image sweet, so Fireworks Music celebrated the national benefit from the power this generated. [] [T]he fireworks were run as a successful commercial enterprise as well as a symbol of monarchical power. The prudent George [II of Great Britain] would surely have been pleased equally by both.
  2. (plural only, figuratively) A boisterous or violent event or situation.
    I left the room after John came home drunk but before the fireworks went off.
    • 2016 December 2, Simon Ebegbulem; Gabriel Enogholase, “Legal fireworks as Edo gov election tribunal begins hearing”, in Vanguard[1], Lagos, Nigeria, archived from the original on 8 December 2016:
      Legal fireworks began yesterday in Benin at the pre-hearing of the petition by the People's Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate in the September 28, 2016 election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, challenging the declaration of Mr. Godwin Obaseki of All Progressives Congress, APC, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as winner of the election.
    • 2016 December 3, Spenser Davis, “Oklahoma football: Sooners, Cowboys knotted at 17 in de facto Big 12 Championship game”, in The Oklahoma Daily[2], archived from the original on 26 December 2016:
      Bedlam started slow, but fireworks started in the second quarter as Oklahoma State took a 17–10 lead to the break.




  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “fireworks”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.