Hot, passionate, flaming, and full of fire. The best word to describe these is the word fiery. Or is it firey? Firey vs. fiery is a heated spelling debate for many but the correct spelling is always fiery. But why not spell it firey when the word comes from the fire?
Fiery Meaning: What Is It?
When talking about a volcano, fiery means full of flames. If the subject is love, fiery can mean passionate. It can also describe something that is fiercely hot, such as pavement in the summer or a drink that burns your tongue and throat. A speech delivered with “sound and fury” can meet the definition as well as a hot temper or angry eyes.
The etymology of the word is even more complex. Back in the Middle Ages about 1500 years ago, people used “fyr” for flames. When the Normans moved in in 1066, they brought change, even to the language. And, slowly fyr became “fier” and then morphed into “fire.” But “fier” held on as the adjective fiery.
Using Fiery in a Sentence
Remember that fiery means full of flames, passion, anger, or heat. You will need to use the word appropriately, but you can be creative as well. Here are some examples of using the word fiery.
- Patrick Henry’s speech was fiery with the passion of a patriot.
- Following the river of molten lava came a fiery holocaust that devastated the village.
- Kathleen’s fiery red hair gave all and sundry warning of her equally fiery temper.
- As the sun beat down, I ran swiftly across the fiery sand to the cool ocean water.
- The moonshine whiskey left a fiery trail down his throat and into his stomach.
Firey vs. Fiery: How to Spell Fiery?
Fiery comes from “fier,” the old word for flames in the 1400s and 1500s. A strange phenomenon occurred at that time. Called the Great Vowel Shift, the developing English language underwent a rapid change in the pronunciation of vowels.
There was an influx of people from the north of England and Scotland to the south because of the Black Death. Dialects from Yorkshire and Northumberland, Wales and Scotland mixed and changed over the next few generations.
In addition, there was a strong French influence on how words were pronounced. The English monarchs were more French than English until the 1500s. While the cause is uncertain, fier became fire, but fiery remained as a descriptive adjective.
Trick to Remembering the Spelling
Fire is usually spoken as one syllable. Fiery, however, usually comes out as three syllables: fai-ur-ee. Listen to the word and it will tell you how to spell it. Or, you can make note that the word “fiery” fits the “i before e” rule. You can also remember a silly phrase like The fiery inferno consumed the bier on the pier.
English is an odd language that has evolved from a multitude of different languages. And, despite having rules, there are exceptions like the firey vs. fiery argument. If you are stuck with the spelling, always keep in mind that “fire-y” is wrong and fiery is always correct.