Firing on all cylinders

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Firing on all cylinders is an idiom that has been in use since the latter half of the twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the idiom firing on all cylinders, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Firing on all cylinders describes someone or something that is functioning at its full capacity, someone or something that is operating to its full potential. The expression firing on all cylinders was first used in the United States in the early 1900s and refers to a function of the internal combustion engine. An internal combustion engine works by firing cylinders. If one or more cylinders misfire, the engine will not work efficiently or at its full capacity. Related phrases are fire on all cylinders, fires on all cylinders, fired on all cylinders.


“Tampa Bay deserves to experience these major works with an enormous orchestra firing on all cylinders.” (Tampa Bay Newspapers)

Microsoft has come out the blocks firing on all cylinders, dropping tonnes of details about the Xbox Series X that has caught gamers’ attention. (The Daily Express)

Matt Joseph, one of the owners, said the restaurant was “firing on all cylinders” up until last weekend when sales dropped. (The Jacksonville Daily Record)

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