fire up the barbecue

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arueng

Senior Member
CHINESE
Rather than roasting a ham or turkey in the oven for Christmas dinner, it has become an Australian tradition to fire up the barbecue with friends and family.


Hi,
Is it right to understand "fire up the barbecue ..." in the above as "invite friends ... to have a barbecue?" Thanks in advance.
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "To fire up" means to "ignite." See barbecue if you need more information about that device.

    You can fire up the barbecue and have a steak (or ribs) all by yourself, if you like, although the barbecue is something of a cultural group tradition.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The expression fire up the barbecue does not necessarily mean anything more than to light the barbecue and get it to the stage when it is ready to use.

    However, if in a crowd I were to say something like "Let's fire up the barbecue", that is a proposal to hold the kind of social event that arueng and sdgraham are talking about.
     

    lgr632525968

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi, everyone.

    According to Oxford Advanced Learner's English-Chinese Dictionary, "fire sth up" means to start a machine,piece of equipment, computer program,etc.

    I wonder if I can say "fire up the TV" or "fire up the channel". Do they sound natural?
     

    dadane

    Senior Member
    English-London
    No they don't sound natural, at least to me. I'd say this is because I would use 'fire up' for emphasis rather than just as a simple synonym for 'start'. If you 'fire up a barbie' you are announcing the start of an 'event'; if you 'fire up a car' then you are probably not starting it for an ordinary everyday reason, maybe your going on a special trip, maybe you've just fixed it, etc. The thing you are 'firing up' might be big: I'd 'fire up' an aircraft but I wouldn't 'fire up' a microwave.

    The same applies to the computer: Why are you saying 'fire up' instead of 'start' or 'turn on'? Because you are enthusiastic about your reason for doing so.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I find "Fire up the TV" as metaphorically humorous, but "fire up the channel" sounds wrong. We turn the TV on and it becomes bright and warm. A TV channel however is going by itself whether we are watching it or not. Some other people started it a long time ago. We don't have to start it.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hi, everyone.

    According to Oxford Advanced Learner's English-Chinese Dictionary, "fire <something> up" means to start a machine,piece of equipment, computer program,etc. ...
    Using "fire up" in that context conjures up in my mind an image of a black-grease-smeared mechanic standing up, wiping his sweaty brow with an oily rag, arms akimbo, stretching his aching back, and instructing his willing helper to start up whatever it is ... in fervent hope that whatever piece of magic he has just done will have been exactly what was needed to effect a repair.
    He would, almost certainly, be saying "Fire her up, Clarence."


    << something, not 'sth' >>
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Fire up" is one of those metaphors that sometimes fits and sometimes doesn't.

    Dictionaries cannot list all the appropriate and inappropriate uses. That's why one cannot learn a language by dictionary alone.

    As above, we don't "fire up" a TV channel, but, unfortunately, we might say "turn on Channel 2." That's equally incorrect, technically, but we say it to mean "turn on the TV and tune it to Channel 2."

    Thus, it's easy to be led astray.
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    >>"Fire up" is one of those metaphors that sometimes fits and sometimes doesn't.<<

    Agreed, and I think it probably originates from the "firing up" a boiler, particularly for a steam locomotive.
     
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