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1. obsolete Of a firearm, to fail to fire a shot. (Replaced in modern English by the word "misfire.") He had the better aim of the two, but his pistol missed fire, and he was killed in the duel.
2. obsolete By extension, to fail to do as expected or intended; to not achieve the intended or anticipated result. (Replaced in modern English by the word "misfire.") It is now clear that the government's social welfare experiment has greatly miss fired.
Fail to achieve the anticipated result, as in Recycling cardboard seemed like a good idea but it missed fire. First recorded in 1727, this phrase originally described a firearm failing to go off and has been used figuratively since the mid-1800s.
1. To fail to discharge. Used of a firearm.
2. To fail to achieve the anticipated result.