Both meanings are very similar in the dictionary, but 发火 also means to 'get angry' and 'to detonate'. Can they be used interchangeably and what is the difference between the two words?

  • 1
    No, they are not interchangeable, 发火 only means 'get angry'; 着火 only means 'on fire' or 'combust'; "to detonate" is '起爆' or '引爆'
    – Tang Ho
    May 31, 2018 at 22:40
  • bkrs发火 (1) [catch fire; ignite fire]∶开始燃烧 发火点 (2) [detonate; go off]∶子弹、 炮弹的底火经撞击后火药爆发 扣动扳机, 但没发火 (3) [get angry]∶发脾气, 激怒 一个人坐在那里发火 4) topo. draw well (of a stove) #18144 着火 (1) [catch fire]∶燃烧起来 湿火药不会着火 (2) [be on fire]∶发生火灾; 失火 房子着火了, 房子着火了! The house is on fire! #21211
    – user6065
    Jun 1, 2018 at 2:29
  • example of 着火 used figuratively in 电视剧 《天不藏奸》:第13集 37:08 盛芳冰(省厅刑警总队长,一级警督)对林道义(副总警监)说:我这心里都快着火啦
    – user6065
    Jun 10, 2018 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


发火 is usually used metaphorically for a person, meaning getting angry. For example, you can say to someone 别发火/don't get angry, 他又发火了/he is angry again.

着火 is usually used as its literal meaning for a real object. Xxx 着火 means xxx catching fire/be on fire. For example, 房子着火了/ the house caught fire.

Basically, they won't be used interchangeably. We don't say 他又着火了 or 房子发火了.


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