com·​bus·​tion | \ kəm-ˈbəs-chən How to pronounce combustion (audio) \

Definition of combustion

1 : an act or instance of burning Smoke is produced during combustion.
2 : a usually rapid chemical process (such as oxidation) that produces heat and usually light The carburetor mixes fuel with air for combustion. also : a slower oxidation (as in the body)
3 : violent agitation : tumult … periods of great social combustion alternating with quiescence …— Kurt Andersen

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Other Words from combustion

combustive \ kəm-​ˈbə-​stiv How to pronounce combustion (audio) \ adjective

Examples of combustion in a Sentence

Combustion may occur at high temperatures. This ratio of air to fuel results in better combustion.
Recent Examples on the Web Major auto producers will shift fully from internal combustion engines to battery electric vehicles by around 2035. Jeffrey Sachs, CNN, "Biden's remarkable success on climate," 23 Apr. 2021 The auto industry’s need for semiconductors is expected to explode in coming years because of autonomous driving features and the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, which are more reliant on software than internal combustion engines. New York Times, "A Tiny Part’s Big Ripple: Global Chip Shortage Hobbles the Auto Industry," 23 Apr. 2021 California is home to 26 million vehicles with internal combustion engines, and the oil industry helps support close to 368,000 blue-collar jobs in the state, according to the Western States Petroleum Assn. Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, "Newsom bans new California fracking permits starting in 2024," 23 Apr. 2021 It’s a phrase that applies to the auto industry, which is undergoing a fundamental shift in powertrain technology to battery electric vehicles from those powered by internal combustion engines. Dallas News, "Here are the EVs coming down the pike," 22 Apr. 2021 Of course, don’t expect Ferrari to give up on its powerful internal combustion engines just yet. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, "In an About Face, Ferrari Says It Will Unveil Its First Fully Electric Car in 2025," 16 Apr. 2021 To win over the majority of drivers, EVs will need to match or beat internal combustion engines on cost, range, and refueling options, says Karl Brauer an executive analyst at Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Why America needs the $112,000 electric Hummer," 7 Apr. 2021 For one thing, many experts say the transition to electric vehicles will likely mean fewer factory workers than are now employed in producing internal combustion engines and complex transmissions. CBS News, "Will Biden's clean energy push lead to a jobs boom?," 6 Apr. 2021 Also, jobs making complex internal combustion engines and transmissions could be in jeopardy when more electric vehicles are on the road. Tom Krisher, Star Tribune, "Electric Chevy pickup to get estimated 400 miles per charge," 6 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'combustion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of combustion

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for combustion

Middle English combustioun "burning, calcination," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French combustion, borrowed from Late Latin combustiōn-, combustiō "burning up (of the dead or by the fires in hell)," from Latin combus-, variant stem of combūrere "to destroy with fire, reduce to ashes" + -tiōn-, tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at combust

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Time Traveler for combustion

Time Traveler

The first known use of combustion was in the 15th century

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Statistics for combustion

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Combustion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for combustion



English Language Learners Definition of combustion

: the act of burning
technical : a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen combines with other substances to produce heat and usually light


com·​bus·​tion | \ kəm-ˈbəs-chən How to pronounce combustion (audio) \

Kids Definition of combustion

: the process of burning


com·​bus·​tion | \ kəm-ˈbəs-chən How to pronounce combustion (audio) \

Medical Definition of combustion

: a usually very rapid chemical process (as oxidation) that produces heat and usually light also : a slower oxidation (as in the body)

More from Merriam-Webster on combustion

Nglish: Translation of combustion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of combustion for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about combustion

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