I learned a new word from magazine, "dedicate", and shown me an example.

Much of their time will be dedicated to finding the one who started the fire.

what is this sentence meaning? and "started the fire"? is it a idiom or a phrase? Does it mean that they are in camping and want to cook something and need to fire?

  • Probably they are police who are looking for an arsonist. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 1:14
  • 3
    Whether "start the fire" is literal or metaphoric depends on the context. What was the article talking about?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 1:59
  • No one did, it was always burning since the world's been turning...
    – nanoman
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 5:20

1 Answer 1


To take it literally, to start a fire means to set fire to something in such a way that it keeps burning. When people are camping, indeed, if they intend to have a campfire for warmth or cooking, they will need to start a fire. You might also use the term light a fire. However, if there's a large, uncontrolled fire, start will be used rather than light. If it's a managed, deliberate, contained fire, I believe that both are acceptable, and which is more common depends on dialect. I would tend to say light when it's a controlled fire, except possibly in the case of camping. And I don't go camping.

It is also used metaphorically, the most well-known example possibly being Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start The Fire. Where any idea or phenomenon is perceived as hard to control and especially if it is seen as destructive, then the person or people who gave rise to it may be said to have "started the fire" in a metaphorical sense.

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