Greek Fire

Greek Fire
   Napalm-like substance that could be squirted under pressure from specially designed ships, used for the first time with devastating effect on the Arab fleet besieging Constantinople (q.v.) in 678. Tradition attributes its invention to a Greek architect from Syria (q.v.) named Kallinikos. Though a closely guarded secret, the formula seems to have included crude oil, mixed with sticky resins and sulfur, which was heated and then discharged by a pump through a bronze tube. In effect, it was like a modern flame-thrower. From some distance it could cover an enemy ship with an adhesive fire that could not be quenched with water. It could also be used in grenades and in portable pumps to attack or defend land walls during sieges.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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  • Greek fire — was a burning liquid weapon used by the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines typically used it in naval battles to great effect as it could continue burning even on water. It was largely responsible for many Byzantine military victories, and partly… …   Wikipedia

  • Greek fire — Fire Fire (f[imac]r), n. [OE. fir, fyr, fur AS. f[=y]r; akin to D. vuur, OS. & OHG. fiur, G. feuer, Icel. f[=y]ri, f[=u]rr, Gr. py^r, and perh. to L. purus pure, E. pure Cf. {Empyrean}, {Pyre}.] 1. The evolution of light and heat in the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Greek fire — Greek Greek, a. [AS. grec, L. Graecus, Gr. ?: cf. F. grec. Cf. {Grecian}.] Of or pertaining to Greece or the Greeks; Grecian. [1913 Webster] {Greek calends}. See under {Greek calends} in the vocabulary. {Greek Church} (Eccl. Hist.), the Eastern… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Greek fire — Greek′ fire′ n. anh an incendiary mixture of unknown composition, used in warfare in medieval times by Byzantine Greeks • Etymology: 1820–30 …   From formal English to slang

  • Greek fire — n. [from its first use by Greeks of Byzantium] an incendiary material used in medieval warfare, described as able to burn in water …   English World dictionary

  • Greek fire — 1. an incendiary mixture of unknown composition, used in warfare in medieval times by Byzantine Greeks. 2. any of a group of inflammable mixtures; wildfire. [1820 30] * * * Any of several flammable mixtures used in ancient and medieval warfare,… …   Universalium

  • Greek fire — noun a mixture used by Byzantine Greeks that was often shot at adversaries; catches fire when wetted • Hypernyms: ↑mixture, ↑weapon, ↑arm, ↑weapon system * * * noun Usage: usually capitalized G 1. : an incendiary composition used in warfare by… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Greek fire — noun A flammable substance first used by the Greeks of to set fire to enemy ships, buildings etc. “There is yet spirit in him,” said Malvoisin apart to Mont–Fitchet, “were it well directed but, like the Greek fire, it burns whatever approaches it …   Wiktionary

  • Greek fire — /grik ˈfaɪə/ (say greek fuyuh) noun a flammable mixture used by the Byzantine Greeks to set fire to enemy ships, etc …  

  • Greek fire — noun historical a combustible composition first used by the Greeks besieged in Constantinople (673–8), used to set fire to enemy ships …   English new terms dictionary

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