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Related to firing: firing line, firing pin

circular firing squad

A group, usually a political party, that is allied against a common enemy or opponent but whose internal disagreements and attacks end up doing more damage to each other than to their target. The lead up to the presidential nomination saw the party devolve into a circular firing squad, as each candidate's vociferous bid to unseat the incumbent president ended up creating huge divisions and disarray within the party itself.
See also: circular, firing, squad

fire on all cylinders

To function or operate at the most desirable or greatest possible level of efficiency, speed, or productivity. (Usually used in the continuous tense.) The new website will be firing on all cylinders once we get the comments section up and running! I only fire on all cylinders after I've had my coffee.
See also: all, cylinder, fire, on

fire (one's) pistol in the air

1. In a duel, to shoot one's firearm into the air to avoid injuring the other party. A: "Did I just hear a gunshot? Is the duel over?" B: "Sir Edmund fired his pistol into the air, so Master William is unscathed."
2. To avoid harshly criticizing or otherwise hurting someone during an argument or debate. I usually fire my pistol in the air in these sorts of debates—I hate hurting people's feelings.
See also: air, fire, pistol

firing line

1. In battle, a line of soldiers armed and ready to fire on an enemy. Our firing line will be able to push back the enemy, I'm sure of it.
2. A place where one is vulnerable to criticism. I'm not going into the boss's office right now—I'm not ready to be on the firing line this early in the morning!
See also: firing, line

be in the firing line

To be a likely target of anger, criticism, or judgment. You will be in the firing line if you keep coming into work late. Because I'm an artist and all of my siblings are doctors, I'm always in the firing line at family functions.
See also: firing, line

firing on all cylinders

 and hitting on all cylinders 
1. Lit.
[of an internal combustion engine] having all its cylinders working and thus providing the maximum amount of power. The old car is firing on all cylinders despite its age. This thing's not hitting on all cylinders.
2. Fig. working at full strength; making every possible effort. The team is firing on all cylinders under the new coach. The factory is hitting on all cylinders to finish the orders on time.
See also: all, cylinder, firing, on

I'd rather face a firing squad than do something

Fig. I would prefer to stand and be executed by gunfire than to do something. I'd rather face a firing squad than go shopping the day after Christmas.
See also: face, firing, rather, squad

firing on all cylinders

operating as powerfully and effectively as possible Doctors say Mary will be firing on all cylinders after two months of physical therapy.
Usage notes: based on the literal meaning of a car engine using all of its cylinders (the parts that produce power)
See also: all, cylinder, firing, on

on the firing line

also in the firing line
in a situation that attracts criticism The judge found himself on the firing line from women for remarks he made about discrimination in the workplace.
Related vocabulary: in the line of fire
See also: firing, line, on

be firing on all cylinders

to be operating as powerfully and effectively as possible Dawson will be firing on all cylinders after 2 months of fitness training.
See also: all, cylinder, firing, on

be in the firing line

  (British, American & Australian) also be on the firing line (American & Australian)
if someone or something is in the firing line, they are likely to be criticized, attacked, or got rid of The judge found himself in the firing line from women's groups after his controversial comments about sexual assault. Recent cuts in council budgets mean that concessionary fares were next on the firing line.
See also: firing, line

fire on all cylinders

Also, hit or click on all cylinders . Function very well, as in Once we figured out how to use the new software, the department was firing on all cylinders , or "So the best infielder takes time to fit into the infield of a Big League club and have it hit on all four cylinders again" (Christy Mathewson, Pitching in a Pinch, 1912). This term transfers the functioning of an internal combustion engine, which works best when all its cylinders ignite, to broader use. [Early 1900s]
See also: all, cylinder, fire, on

firing line, on the

In the forefront of any activity or pursuit, especially a controversy. For example, At the sales conference they asked so many questions that Anne felt she was on the firing line . This expression originally meant the line of positions from which gunfire is directed at a target and is still so used in a military context. Today it is also used more loosely. [Late 1800s]
See also: firing, on
References in classic literature ?
The musket-men were drawn up in battle array, in a line extending on each side of his artillery, with orders to await the signal of firing from himself.
Stand by, my lads,” said Benjamin, who acted as an aid de-camp on this occasion, “stand by, my hearties, and when Squire Dickens heaves out the signal to begin firing, d’ye see, you may open upon them in a broadside.
Evidently they were firing at the hussars, but the balls with rapid rhythmic whistle flew over the heads of the horsemen and fell somewhere beyond them.
You spoke to me of inflammable material," said he, "but you said nothing about firing it.
But however angry the Arabs might have been at the insubordination of their slaves, they were at least convinced that it would be the better part of wisdom to forego the pleasure of firing the village that had given them two such nasty receptions.
I ordered our men to fire as before, every other man; and they took their aim so sure that they killed several of the wolves at the first volley; but there was a necessity to keep a continual firing, for they came on like devils, those behind pushing on those before.
We made signals of distress to the ship, and though she rode a league off, yet my nephew, the captain, hearing our firing, and by glasses perceiving the posture we lay in, and that we fired towards the shore, pretty well understood us; and weighing anchor with all speed, he stood as near the shore as he durst with the ship, and then sent another boat with ten hands in her, to assist us.