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 The move away from internal combustion engines to electric motors, for all new vehicles, is no longer theoretical. Dallas News, "Ford’s new F-150: America’s favorite pickup goes hybrid (in more ways than one)," 26 Dec. 2020 And so a discussion of the early use of fire leads to a passage on the chemistry of combustion, and an examination of wooden spears prompts a glimpse at the mechanics of the human arm. Gerard Helferich, WSJ, "‘The Age of Wood’ Review: How to Carve a Civilization," 22 Dec. 2020 Because of the success of Tesla and its electric cars, many investors have become convinced that electric vehicles are no fad, and that a real transition away from internal combustion engines is well underway. New York Times, "A Race to Become the Tesla of Delivery Trucks and Vans," 22 Dec. 2020 That’s near the base price of compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester, all of which rely on pollution-spewing internal combustion engines. Los Angeles Times, "Review: The Volkswagen ID.4. Is this the car that makes electrics go mainstream?," 5 Dec. 2020 Under Trump’s looser requirements, automakers would have been under less pressure to bring in more electric vehicles, as well as gas-electric hybrids and more efficient vehicles with internal combustion engines. Tom Krisher,, "Nissan exits Trump emissions fight as automakers prep for stronger standards under Biden," 4 Dec. 2020 Most people understand that carbon monoxide, a byproduct of incomplete combustion and sometimes faulty stoves and heaters, is dangerous enough to have warning alarms for. Adam Rogers, Wired, "The Next Covid Dilemma: How to Make Buildings Breathe Better," 9 Nov. 2020 Carbon monoxide exposure is the byproduct of incomplete combustion, Brown said — when the oil in appliances or vehicles is heated but doesn't burn completely. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "Carbon monoxide poisoning or Covid-19? Here's how you can tell," 23 Oct. 2020 Daimler, which envisions more than half of its global sales being electrified by the end of the decade, will have to overcome labor-union opposition to shrinking its variations of combustion engines by 70%. Craig Trudell, Fortune, "Is the boom in electric vehicle stocks almost over?," 19 Dec. 2020

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 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Combustion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for combustion


How to pronounce combustion (audio)

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)

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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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