For example, what would the single spark in the red 'circle' be called?enter image description here

  • 10
    Isn't that a spark after all?
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 14:32
  • "Jupiter is a single spark seen with the naked eye—a single instance of an object. Seen through a good telescope, you will see Jupiter resolved into many sparks. Each new spark is a satellite of Jupiter— ...." books.google.com/books?isbn=1599049236
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 14:38
  • 6
    Hand-drawn circles! upvote... Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:40
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    This question is unclear. First, how technical of an answer do you want? Second, what exactly are you asking about? The 'spark' (exploding pellet) is a star that is traveling through the air leaving behind a comet. The comet can be called a tail, trail, or streak. Again, how technical do you want to be and exactly what part are you asking about? Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:53
  • 1
    Maybe 'sparxel' ?
    – TaW
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 20:08

5 Answers 5


The correct technical name for a single spark of a firework is a "star". Each star is a small roughly spherical pellet made mainly of gunpowder.

A fuse ignites a lifting charge and a time-delay fuse. Whilst the lifting charge burns, it propels the firework into the air, then near to the peak of its trajectory the time-delay fuse ignites a bursting charge packed behind the stars. This bursting charge both ignites and distributes the stars. Chemical additives in the stars determine their burn colour. They are called stars both before and after ignition.

You can find many labelled diagrams of the inner workings of fireworks if you search online for "anatomy of a firework" or similar. Here is one example:

This is a diagram, shows a dissection of two fireworks: One of the fireworks is cylindrical and referred to as 'Italian-style', and a mostly cylindrical shell, with an almost conical shape with the point cut off of it protruding from the bottom, referred to as 'Oriental-style'. The image lists the various parts, including the quick match fuse, the time delay fuse, the bursting charge, the lifting charge, the paper case and most importantly the stars. The stars appear to be spheres made out of compacted gunpowder granules, above the lifting charge, around the bursting charge, and inside the shell. The image has text indicating it is sourced from discovery.com and copyrighted by KRT, circa 2002.

  • True, but it's not clear that the OP is asking about the star and/or the trail /tail/streak/comet behind it; which is why I asked for clarification rather than guess what the OP is asking about. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 17:05
  • 5
    Indeed, it would be good if the OP were to clarify the question. My assumption that he was referring primarily to the star (rather than the tail) was based on his referring to it as a "spark", ie an individual point of light (rather than a "streak" or similar). Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 17:11
  • -1 Wonder how you could complete miss the point. "Star" is not the spark of light -- please re-read your source. Sorry to disappoint. Also, check dictionaries for star and let me know if any source defines it this way.
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 12:09
  • @Kris the image he uses, uses 'stars' in step 4 and 5 (the source). And this may be more of firework jargon than a general definition (like comet in my answer, which doesn't have a firework definition that I could see but doesn't stop pyros from using it)
    – depperm
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 12:28
  • 1
    @Kris - "7.I.7 Pyrotechny. A small piece of combustible composition, used in rockets, mines, etc., which as seen burning high in the air resembles a star." source: OED CD-ROM v4.0
    – Jules
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 15:11

You may call them streaks.

Usage examples:
Google search for "firework streak"



3 a : a narrow band of light


streak [in American]
2. a ray of light or a flash, as of lightning

Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.



to grow to such length as to droop over toward the ground

to move, flow, or extend slowly in thin streams


something that in shape, appearance, or position is like an animal's tail

Example (as more than the head is circled):

Palm Tree – An aerial effect that produces a gold or silver stem as the shell rises into the sky (known as a rising tail), followed by a brocade or willow effect that creates palm fronds. It resembles a gold or silver palm tree in the sky.1


a fire or blaze of light used especially to signal, illuminate, or attract attention


from American Pyro technic terms

A pellet of composition which is propelled from a mortar or shell and produces a long tailed effect

1 Usage examples

  • Nitpicking here, but I don't think 'tail' really fits. Also, a 'flare' is predominantly a thing on its own (as in rescue flare), and 'Comets' are extraterrestrial (as your definition shows) and 'pellets' are when they aren't alight (plus it's jargon)... Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:40
  • @marcellothearcane I included tail because it was mentioned on 'Usage examples' in multiple types of fireworks
    – depperm
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:49
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    @depperm: just because it has a tail does not mean that it is a tail. E.g. cats, dogs, even snakes :) (if you're wondering about the snakes, their tail only starts at their anus, similar to all animals. The rest of their body is not a tail)
    – Flater
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:52

In addition to the provided answers, I would refer to it as an offshoot.


  1. A side shoot or branch on a plant.

1.1. A thing that develops from something else.
‘commercial offshoots of universities’

In this case, I consider it related to 1.1 (more literal than its example showcases), because it is a fragment of the initial explosion.


It's just a spark. Sparks are already individual. Your question is invalid. When you create a fire, you create it using sparks. When you are successful at creating one streak of light, you call it a spark. Therefore it is a spark for that one streak of light.

  • 4
    I think your answer is invalid. Just because such a "streak of light" can be called a spark doesn't mean English doesn't have a better word than spark. Therefore, it's a valid question, even if no better answer than spark exists.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 21:10

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