- A rapidly spreading fire, especially one occurring in a wildland area.
- (historical) Greek fire, Byzantine fire.
- A spreading disease of the skin, particularly erysipelas.
- (figuratively) Something that acts quickly and uncontrollably.
2015 January 18, Monty Munford, “What’s the point of carrying a mobile phone nowadays?”, in The Daily Telegraph:
- So, it appears a revolution has happened and a very unexpected one. Of course it was only a matter of time before it happened. With WiFi connectivity spreading faster than wildfire and a laptop or tablet in one’s bag, what’s the point of a mobile nowadays?
1622, Thomas Dekker; Philip Massinger, The Virgin Martyr:
- The. Do not blow, / The Furnace of a wrath thrice hot already; / Ætna is in my brest, wildfire burns here, / Which onely bloud must quench […]
1715, Floyer; Edward Baynard, Psychrolousia (Or, the History of Cold Bathing: Both Ancient and Modern):
- Where are […] the Aunts that do as much for their Nieces, and make them caper and sparkle like Wildfire?
1715, Francisco de Quevedo, The Visions of Dom Francisco de Quevedo:
- I slept very disturbedly, and had a quick high towring Pulse; had strange Flashes in my Blood, like Wild-fire, which I could perceive in my Face, Neck, Breast, and extream Parts.
rapidly spreading fire
Greek fire — see Greek fire
spreading disease of the skin
- 1862, Martim de Albuquerque, Notes and Queries.
- “Greek Fire”, in (Please provide the title of the work), Classic Encyclopedia, 30 October 2006, retrieved 2008-12-23