Tomorrow is Bonfire Night in the UK, a time when there are many firework displays, and large bonfires upon which we burn guys – effigies of Guy Fawkes, who was part of a failed plot to blow up the British parliament on 5th November 1605. Quite a lot of fireworks are being set off tonight as well.

The English word fireworks is not as interesting as the equivalent in other languages. For example, in Spanish they’re ‘artificial fires’ (fuegos artificiales), in Chinese they’re ‘smoke flowers’ (煙花), in Japanese they’re ‘flower fire’ (花火), in Welsh they’re ‘wild fire’ (tân gwyllt), and in Irish they’re ‘fire art’ (tinte ealaíne).

This entry was posted in Language, Words and phrases.

10 Responses to Fireworks

  1. Evans Knight says:

    in farsi the word that I know for fireworks is اتش بازی
    which means “open fire” can also have the connotation of returning, which is, I thinkl, the reason that fireworks have the name.

  2. jdotjdot89 says:

    In Hebrew, the word for firework is “זיקוק”–which really just means “sparker.”
    Interestingly though, if I’m not mistaken, it comes from the root ז.ק.ק. (for those of you who understand Semitic-language roots) which generally means “to distill” or something along those lines.

    Beyond that, I don’t know.

  3. Nishiki says:

    煙花 can also means “brothel” in Chinese.

  4. Podolsky says:

    The Persian word اتش بازی atesh bazi means “fire game”.
    The corresponding expression in Hebrew is ziquqin (~ ziquqey) di-nur “sparks of light”. It is originally an Aramaic expression.
    The Russian ‘feyerverk’ is borrowed from German Feuerwerk, literally ‘fire-work’.

  5. Laci the Hun says:

    in Hungarian it’s “tüzijáték” which means something like “fire game” in Esperanto it’s “artfajraĵo”

  6. jdotjdot89 says:

    Podolsky, are you sure that “זיקוקין דנור” is used in Modern Hebrew? It makes sense in Aramaic, of course, and could conceivably have been adopted by Hebrew-speakers, but that seems like it would be something from long ago. Most Aramaic in Hebrew now comes from Talmudic Aramaic or Hebraic. I’ve never heard that phrase used myself.

  7. Evans Knight says:

    game! that’s the word I was trying ot think of. argh. I hate the word baz…it always confuses me.

  8. Josh says:

    French= feu d’artifice

  9. Rachel says:

    Actually, i prefer fireworks to fuegos artificiales – i think the latter is less romantic, ironically and unusually for me! I really like the chinese and japanese tho – very poetic, and in a way quite accurate. However, I do wonder why the chinese don’t say fire flowers as well – the characters seem to mean the same in japanese as chinese.

  10. Joseph Quintanilla says:

    The words I know for fireworks in spanish are ‘juegos artificiales’ and ‘cuetes,’ the latter is probably from my central american background.

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