noun1 a : a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions 2 plural : a display of fireworks 3 plural b : a display of temper or intense conflict c : a spectacular display
We made sure to arrive at the waterfront early enough to grab a good spot for viewing the fireworks.
“The landmark court battle between Apple and Samsung over smartphone patents wrapped up today with verbal fireworks between dueling attorneys as they made closing arguments.” — Alan Farnham, ABCNews.com, April 29, 2014
Did you know?
The word “fireworks” burst upon the scene in the 1500s as a reference to military explosives (a sense that is now obsolete). These explosives were originally used as weapons, of course, but soon they were also being used in explosive displays celebrating victory or peace. By 1575 people were oohing and aahing over “fireworks shewed upon the water; the which were both strange and wel [sic] executed.” Figurative uses have been popping up ever since the 1600s. In addition to the angry explosion sense illustrated in our second example sentence, “fireworks” can also refer to a spectacular display of musical, visual, or verbal brilliance, as in “an outstanding album, bursting with spectacular musical fireworks.”