com·bus·tion | \kəm-ˈbəs-chən \

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 \ 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

The agency said previously that tiny cracks in the exhaust manifold — a cast iron or stainless steel tube that carries combustion gasses to the exhaust — could explain why fumes are entering the cabin. Tom Krisher,, "Safety group pushes Ford to recall Explorer for exhaust fumes," 3 July 2018 The ice cream parlor created a special flavor for the occasion: Floatin' Over the High Line, a sweet combustion of root beer ice cream, mini-marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles. Andrea Sachs,, "Take a walk on New York's High Line from end-to-end," 2 July 2018 Unlike internal-combustion cars, EVs don’t lose power as the air thins. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Volkswagen’s All-Electric Effort to Climb Out of Its P.R. Hole," 4 July 2018 Under the skin The internal combustion side of things is courtesy of a 2.9L direct-injection twin-turbo V6. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Porsche’s Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is a heck of a hybrid," 16 May 2018 In a cavernous metal warehouse on the CSIRO campus that has long been used to study coal combustion, two of Dolan's colleagues are assembling a 2-meter-tall reactor that is dwarfed by a nearby coal reactor. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018 Her husband, Lewis White, a veteran, died of inhalation of products of combustion due to an apartment fire with heart disease also a contributing cause. Rosemary Sobol,, "Deaths of West Side husband and wife, both 90, ruled homicides," 23 June 2018 One criticism is that producing pure oxygen for the combustion process is not terribly efficient. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "In Texas, a new power plant could redefine carbon capture," 31 May 2018 And while these play a role, research suggests there is a central, underlying theme that gets the psychological combustion started — a disconnect between one’s inner calling, talents or purpose and one’s external circumstances. Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Burnout reflects a conflict between our inner calling and what we have to do," 13 July 2018

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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Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for combustion

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

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More Definitions for combustion



English Language Learners Definition of combustion

: the act of burning

: a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen combines with other substances to produce heat and usually light


com·bus·tion | \kəm-ˈbəs-chən \

Kids Definition of combustion

: the process of burning


com·bus·tion | \kəm-ˈbəs-chən \

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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on combustion

Spanish Central: Translation of combustion

Nglish: Translation of combustion for Spanish Speakers

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

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