Talk:Fire in the hole

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Not only US, and nothing to do with minersEdit

The expression was originally English, not American, and dates back to the early days of gunpowder. And the expression isn't actually "fire in the hole" but instead "fire in the hold", which refers to the area on ships where cargo (and more importantly, the powder reserves) was stored. As you can imagine, a fire in the hold was the worst possible thing that could happen on a wooden ship. Over time, the pronunciation has slipped. This article either needs to be rewritten or deleted. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:19, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

I too thought the phrase was "fire in the hold" from antiquity. I imagine things were worse when ships were wooden rather than steel, but still - a fire breaking out in the hold of a ship can neither be a good thing from an economic (loss of freight) point of view, nor from a safety point of view: there's nowhere to run to. No need to appeal to wood or gunpowder, an article about a fire in a 'limer': - The catastrophe in Henry Seaton Merriman's short story 'Pariah': - The Texas City Disaster 1947, fertiliser: - Fire in the hold is terrible in a modern ship (colour photos!) - And a story from the NY Times 1891, jute on fire, but a record of the cry 'Fire in the hold': - I've spent more time looking up those refs than I had spare, so I'll just dump them here for someone to 'be bold' with. I'm sure there are plenty more where those came from. SeanCollins (talk) 14:18, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

I notice that all the citations given are US oriented. I have never ever heard someone use this term in the UK. The article should state that this term is used in the US and give citations. If anyone can find citations for it being used in other countries then they can be added later. (talk) 13:13, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

Cannon origin?Edit

I was told at a demonstration of Revolutionary War technology that the phrase "fire in the hole!" refers to the touchhole of a cannon. Once a fire has been touched to the hole, the cannon's firing is imminent. Seems like cannon have been around a lot longer than has the use of dynamite in mining.

No. Because you put black powder into the touchhole, which makes the cannon fire almost immediately as you light it. There is a barely discernible delay, it's somewhere around a third of a second. Not enough to even start yelling. Seegras (talk) 17:26, 29 November 2017 (UTC)
I always understood it that yell come BEFORE the fire came to the hole, not after... That the phrase was in fact the order for the guy with a torch to do it (from which is derived the preset "Fire" order) as well as a warning for anybody else in a vicinity to take cover. --Niusereset (talk) 23:45, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
And you don't use a torch to light, you use slow match on a linstock or a hot iron. Later flintlocks with a lanyard. Plus: We know the command in English around 1800 was simply "Fire". So all the gunnery-related explanations are probably bogus. Seegras (talk) 11:51, 7 April 2021 (UTC)


My source for the toilet-flush warning is a colleague who has served in the US Army. He says the phrase brings up painful memories of inadequate plumbing at many old barracks buildings.

No call is made when a grenade is thrown in the open? Does that depend on the type of grenade? When throwing a fragmentation grenade, I thought people yelled "frag out!". Kim Bruning 22:17, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

I removed this, given the mining origin of the phrase (a hole bored into the rock, and then loaded with explosives). If there's a good source for this, feel free to restore it.

Common MisconceptionEdit

The real phrase is "Fire in the Hold." But due to its its use on the night the Titanic went down people have said hole since then for reasons unknown.

Whilst I cannot cite a source, I have always believed that it is, indeed, "Fire in the Hold". The usage coming from Naval warfare, where the gunpowder would be kept in barrels in the Powder Hold. If, during combat, a fire were to break out in the powder hold, a person would yell "Fire in the Hold", indicating to his crewmates that a large explosion was imminent. 19:56, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

If Google hits count for anything (which they usually don't, but take it for what it's worth), "fire in the hole" gets 451,000 hits, "fire in the hold" gets 816. (Just 816, not even a thousand). Some of the former may be Wikipedia mirrors and whatnot, but I'd say we have a winner. -- 23:20, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Much as I hate google battles, I think in this case we really do have a clear winner. I've no idea what the Titanic has to do with it either. Alastairward (talk) 08:57, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

With respect, the Google hits test is completely irrelevant in settling the issue of origin. All it does is reflect the fact that there are over 300 million Americans, most of whom are connected to the Internet, so the current American view tends to prevail. As this is a phrase most commonly used these days in the US (see references/sources) it would not be surprising if most people thought a corruption of the original was, in fact, the original! This is not an anti-American point, it is a simple pragmatic POV! --621PWC (talk) 00:56, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Gunpowder is stored in a space called the magazine, not the hold. The 'fire in the hold' theory is plain nonsense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:48, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Around the world?Edit

""Fire in the hole" is a warning used around the world [...]" - I doubt that this phrase is commonly used in countries where English is not the mother tongue. German soldiers for example say or yell "Granate" (= grenade) when throwing one to inform their comrades. They simply would not use an english phrase to avoid confusion, even if all of them know what it means. And I guess most of the French soldiers would refuse to use any non-French word, as it is common in France to translate nearly everything.

If there is no reliable source for its use in non-english speaking countries, I would like to change the phrase to ""Fire in the hole" is a warning used in english speaking countries [...]". Regards! --FoxtrottBravo (talk) 17:28, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

It is "Grenade!" in French. Hébus (talk) 22:04, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
Although I accept that the origins may be old British, I am not so sure that its current use is commonly used in English-speaking countries around the world? I would like more reassurance. My concern is that the phrase is predominantly American and, therefore, we are presenting an American view as the world view. Most of the references show American sources.

--621PWC (talk) 00:51, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

I've never heard this in Britain (talk) 02:02, 5 August 2014 (UTC)


I am questioning the relevance of an example that does not relate to explosives or an explosive action of some kind. To wit: the line in Television/Film examples where someone is smoking. It may be mind-altering, but IMHO, this is hardly an appropriate example in consideration to all the other examples I read. Nutster (talk) 01:38, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

IMO, if the deleted scene from aliens is relevant, this is too. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:4DD0:FF00:82F8:61F2:3574:7F75:33CD (talk) 17:42, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

I think this page at the moment exists only as a repository of irrelevant information. Lists of uses of a thing in popular culture do not make for an encyclopedic article. (talk) 23:12, 17 August 2015 (UTC)