firing

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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

fire a shot across the bow

To do something as a warning. The phrase refers to a warning shot from a ship. She fired a shot across the bow, letting her boyfriend know that she would not tolerate his bad attitude.
See also: across, bow, fire, shot

fire blanks

slang Of a man, to have no sperm in his semen. We already know that Emma is healthy, so if she can't get pregnant, I must be firing blanks.
See also: blank, fire

in the firing line

In a position or situation in which one attracts or is vulnerable to criticism or anger. I'm not going into the boss's office about that right now—I'm not ready to be in the firing line this early in the morning! 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

on the firing line

In a position or situation in which one attracts or is vulnerable to criticism or anger. I'm not going into the boss's office about that right now—I'm not ready to be on the firing line this early in the morning! Because I'm an artist and all of my siblings are doctors, I'm always on the firing line at family functions.
See also: firing, line, on

be firing on all cylinders

To be functioning or operating at the most desirable or greatest possible level of efficiency, speed, or productivity. The automated messaging process is firing on all cylinders now that we've solved the bouncing issue. I'll be firing on all cylinders after I've had my coffee.
See also: all, cylinder, firing, on

fire off

1. To hastily write and send a message. A noun or pronoun can be used between "fire" and "off." He's always firing off angry emails and getting himself into trouble.
2. To make statements or ask questions in rapid succession. A noun or pronoun can be used between "fire" and "off." He fired off so many questions that I couldn't keep track of them all.
3. To shoot a weapon. A noun or pronoun can be used between "fire" and "off." Someone is out in the woods firing off a gun of some kind.
See also: fire, off

fire from the hip

To speak or act rashly, recklessly, or bluntly, without consideration of potential consequences. (An allusion to firing a sidearm immediately upon drawing it from its holster without taking time to aim.) The country's prime minister has gained a reputation of firing from the hip, issuing executive orders without consulting members of parliament. The boss tends to fire from the hip, so don't take what he says too personally.
See also: fire, hip

fire something off (to someone)

Fig. to send something to someone immediately, by a very rapid means. Fire a letter off to Fred, ordering him to return home at once. I fired off a letter to Fred as you asked. I finished the e-mail and fired it off.
See also: fire, off

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

fire off

Say or write and send away rapidly, as in He fired off three more questions, or She fired off a letter of complaint to the president. This expression originally (from about 1700) was, and still is, used in the sense of "discharge a weapon or ammunition," as in The police were instructed to fire off canisters of tear gas. The figurative use dates from the late 1800s.
See also: fire, off

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

fire blanks

BRITISH
If someone fires blanks, they try hard but fail to achieve something. Dalian and his fellow attackers continued to fire blanks against Liverpool and it was left to full-back Staunton to provide United's first goal. Note: Blanks are gun cartridges which contain explosive but do not contain a bullet, so that they do not cause any injuries or damage when the gun is fired.
See also: blank, fire

be firing on all cylinders

COMMON If someone is firing on all cylinders, they are doing a task with great enthusiasm and energy. I saw her a few weeks ago and she was firing on all cylinders. When Wales are firing on all cylinders, they can beat any country in the world. Note: If someone is not doing a task as well as they should be, you can say that they are not firing on all cylinders or are only firing on two cylinders. We were only firing on two cylinders in the first half of the game. Note: This expression refers to the cylinders in an engine. There are usually four of them.
See also: all, cylinder, firing, on

in the firing line

or

in the line of fire

COMMON
1. If you are in the firing line or in the line of fire, you are in a position where you are likely to be criticized or attacked. Her views sometimes put her in the firing line of women's rights groups. Since he is in charge of reforming the commission, he was one of those in the line of fire yesterday. Note: You can also say that someone is out of the firing line or out of the line of fire if they are away from a position where they are likely to be criticized or attacked. He wanted to get his client out of the firing line before applying for any court orders.
2. If someone is in the firing line or in the line of fire, they are in the way of people who are firing guns, and therefore likely to be shot. Any hostages in the firing line would have been sacrificed. They forced the men to walk ahead of soldiers, putting them first in the line of fire from the rebels. Note: You can also say that someone is out of the firing line or out of the line of fire if they are away from a position where they are likely to be shot. To get him out of the firing line, she asked the General to appoint Santiago to his staff.
See also: firing, line

fire blanks

(of a man) be infertile. informal
The expression is based on the idea of a gun firing blank cartridges.
See also: blank, fire

firing on all (four) cylinders

working or functioning at a peak level.
This expression is a metaphor from an internal-combustion engine: a cylinder is said to be firing when the fuel inside it is ignited.
1998 Entertainment Weekly Even when his imagination isn't firing on all cylinders, Amis is still worth picking up, if only to enjoy the jazzy rhythm of his prose.
See also: all, cylinder, firing, on

in the firing line

in a situation where you are subject to criticism or blame because of your responsibilities or position.
2001 Sunday Business Post Once again the International Monetary Fund is in the firing line after the financial collapse in Argentina.
See also: firing, line

go down with (all) guns firing

fail or be beaten, but continue to offer resistance until the end.
See also: down, firing, gun

firing/working on all ˈcylinders

(informal) using all your energy to do something; working as well as possible: The 24-year-old player feels that he is not yet firing on all cylinders.
See also: all, cylinder, firing, on, working

be in the ˈfiring line

(British English) (American English be on the ˈfiring line) be in a position where you are likely to be affected, attacked, criticized, etc: The newspapers are criticizing the government’s policy again, and the Prime Minister is in the firing line.In the latest round of spending cuts, teachers’ jobs are again in the firing line.
See also: firing, line

fire off

v.
1. To say or ask something rapidly, especially a question or command: The prosecutor fired questions off to the witness. My parents fired off reasons why my plan wouldn't work.
2. To write and send a communication quickly: I fired off a positive reply to the job offer. My friend fired an angry letter off to the editor.
3. To shoot something from a weapon, especially in quick succession: The police officer fired off warning shots when the suspect approached them. At the parade, the color guard fired three shots off.
See also: fire, off
References in periodicals archive ?
Immediately following the successful completion of Developmental Testing, USS LAKE ERIE conducted a series of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation test firings.
Others in the lab told him to forget it, that only the intensity of the firing and not the pattern is important, and that people had wasted years looking at those patterns.
The next step is a set of full in-flight test firings followed by the planned live firing demonstrations to US defense authorities, which we anticipate occurring within the next three months.
The records did not note the causes of the proposed firings.
Video footage of these firings will be available for viewing
These important firings substantially enhance Metal Storm's 'in house' product development and allow for demonstrations of the company's own prototype products directly to defense customers.
The modernization will add computerized instrumentation able to detect problems quickly during a test firing.
In spring, the team finished testing one engine, firing it for a total of 1,500 seconds.
He said the firings were the result of the district's discomfort with having a private firm review its work and decisions - discomfort that has been building since last summer.
16, 1998--The first successful firing of an innovative "gel" missile propulsion system suited for a wide variety of tactical missiles was conducted last month at the U.
We learned enough from the ground firings and the airborne cryogenic gas flow tests to predict the hot gas effects of an aerospike engine during flight,'' said Jerry Rising, Lockheed Martin's vice president for the X-33/VentureStar program.
Inappropriate ICD firings like that described in Dr.
Other critics of the firings say that making a midseason switch amounts to throwing in the towel.
Earlier successful test firings of Thiokol's Stage 1 and CSD's Stage 3 Minuteman motors were done as part of the Air Force Propulsion Replacement Technology Insertion Program.