Ready for another edition of commonly misspelled words whose correct answer makes so little sense that it might make you enraged? Buckle up for the truth about “fiery or firey!”
First, some background. My name is Lillie, and I’ve been an English teacher for 19 years now, delighting in hand-illustrating cute cartoons to help kids and adults around the world learn language lessons such as whether to write “Awe or Awe.” Now, on to the flame-filled question at hand…
Fiery or Firey?
When wanting to write the word that describes something that is fire-like, bright red and orange, hot, or passionate, the logical temptation would be to write “firey,” right? The definition of the word we’re looking for is that it’s FIRE-Y. However… that is the wrong spelling!
In fact, the correct spelling is “fiery,” with the “R” and “E” reversed from “FIRE” to be “FIER.” What the heck?! Yes, this dates back to Middle English, when “fier” was the accepted spelling for the word we now write as “fire.” Oh my.
Firey Doesn’t Exist
Yes, that’s right: If you write “firey,” that creates a word that doesn’t exist. It’s like spelling “seperate” or “truley,” or “attendence,” or “incase,” or my personal least favorite (because it trips me up so often), “greatful.” These fake words are written so often that people think that they’re correct, but they’re not — they’re simply a figment of our imagination, and should be banished forever!
Fiery Spelling Memory Tricks
Given that “fiery” belongs in my list of hard words to spell in English, what are tricks to remember how to write it? First, look at the pronunciation. You pronounce “fiery” as “FIE-er-ee” which has three distinct syllables. If you think about it, the spelling “firey” would produce only two: “FIE-REY,” which would be wrong.
Second, visualize my cartoon drawing, above. As my character points out, the spelling of fiery is so illogical that it puts you in a FIERY rage! This should help jog your memory that the expected “firey” spelling is definitely (not “defenitely“) incorrect.
VIDEO: Firey vs. Firey
Fiery in a Sentence
Once one gets over the initial fury about the weird spelling of “fiery,” there are all sorts of fun ways to use the word. (Unlike the word “weither,” which isn’t a word at all.) Here are examples of correct usage of fiery in a sentence.
First, you can use it in a literal way (vs. figurative language), meaning there is actual fire involved. For example: “As the flames began to consume the wood logs, fiery columns began shooting up the chimney.”
Second, “fiery” can be used to describe something that looks visually like red flames, but isn’t actually on fire. For example, “It’s somewhat ironic that the woman’s hair is a fiery red, but her personality is so cool and muted.”
Finally, you can use the word “fiery” to describe something that is emotionally passionate — and a little hot-tempered and conflict-prone. Here’s an example sentence: “He has a fiery temper, so try to stay on topic. It will upset him and he’ll start yelling if you mention anything irrelevant.”
Fiery or Firey, in Sum
There you have it: in the “fiery or firey” dilemma (not “dilema“), the answer (see my article on how to spell answer) is that firey doesn’t exist. This means that the spelling “fiery” is the way to go every time (not “everytime“) — however counter-intuitive it may seem.
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English who has been a public school educator since 2003, and an experienced Reiki practitioner since 2018. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009), TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010), and ReikiColors.com. Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!