etymology of "fired"

Had I not been “fired” I would likely not be wasting my days searching for random etymologies.

“To be driven or forced out, as if by fire”

Paraphrased from OED, and it’s centuries old.

It, of course, is from the word “fire” as in “to fire a gun.” The OED has the first instance in 1885.

The image is to eject someone from a job like a gun ejects a bullet.

Mjollnir – the OED says your derivation is “unlikely.”


No, no, no. You’re all wrong. The explanation is not very complicated.

“Fired” is a play on words that turns around the multivalent meaning of discharge. To “charge” could mean…

(in other words, to give somebody a job of work) … or …

(definitions from the American Heritage Dictionary.)

So discharge could mean either:
—set off the explosive in the firearm (i.e. fire the gun); or
—dismiss the worker from their job.

To discharge originally had both meanings, but to fire originally meant only shooting off the gun. Through wordplay the verb to fire was transferred to the other meaning of discharge. Get it?

You must have a more up-to-date version. Mine is the original dating from the 1920s, and I definitely go that impression from the description.

Hmmm. . . .

It’s only about a century old. Maybe I need to upgrade.:smiley:

Answer: Jumping to conclusions

Yep. I misread. There in black and white. The last entry (#16–I stopped reading at #8), with the “disclaimer” US slang.

US slang??? As Dr. Zachary Smith would sayIn-deed!