flam·​ma·​ble | \ ˈfla-mə-bəl How to pronounce flammable (audio) \

Definition of flammable

: capable of being easily ignited and of burning quickly

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Other Words from flammable

flammable noun

Why Inflammable Is Not the Opposite of Flammable

Combustible and incombustible are opposites, but flammable and inflammable are synonyms. How can that be? The in- of incombustible is a common prefix meaning "not," but the in- of inflammable is a different prefix. Inflammable, which dates back to 1605, descends from Latin inflammare ("to inflame"), itself from in- (here meaning "in" or "into") plus flammare ("to flame"). Flammable also comes from flammare but didn't enter English until 1813. In the early 20th century, firefighters worried that people might think inflammable meant "not able to catch fire," so they adopted flammable and nonflammable as official safety labels and encouraged their use to prevent confusion. In general use, flammable is now the preferred term for describing things that can catch fire, but inflammable is still occasionally used with that meaning as well.

Examples of flammable in a Sentence

avoid wearing loose flammable clothing when using the blowtorch

Recent Examples on the Web

Roncolato is an active member of Grenfell United, a group of survivors fighting for their rights and for potentially flammable cladding to be removed from other buildings across Britain. Karla Adam, Washington Post, "‘Trapped like a cat in a cage’: London’s Grenfell Tower survivors look back on the deadliest fire in modern British history," 13 June 2018 There are questions over whether Kensington and Chelsea Council contributed to the deaths by installing the flammable cladding to improve the appearance of the austere building, rather than fire-resistant cladding, to save money. Jane Onyanga-omara, USA TODAY, "One year later, Britain remembers Grenfell Tower fire, country's deadliest tragedy since World War II," 13 June 2018 Builders in Britain were allowed to wrap residential apartment towers — perhaps several hundred of them — from top to bottom in flammable cladding, a practice forbidden for high-rise buildings in the United States and many European countries. New York Times, "A Year on, Pain and Anger Still Linger Over Grenfell," 13 June 2018 Someone had intentionally … poured fluids that were flammable and had set a fire. CBS News, "Did a missing Army nurse fall prey to a serial killer targeting military women?," 26 June 2018 And the other one was very, very flammable: butane. Rafi Letzter, Scientific American, "Earth’s Ozone Layer is Under Attack—Again," 22 May 2018 Don’t leave candles unattended or within a foot of anything flammable. Kimberly Truong, SELF, "House Fires Are Way More Common in Winter—Here’s How to Stay Safe," 23 Jan. 2019 Stronger Utility Poles Among the most immediate improvements a utility can make is replacing flammable wooden utility poles with ones made out of concrete, steel or fiberglass, which are less fire-prone and stronger. Erin Ailworth, WSJ, "What Utilities Can Do to Strengthen the Grid," 22 Jan. 2019 The secretaries toured a parcel of forested land that had been aggressively managed in recent years to remove flammable brush, and called for easing federal and state regulations requiring environmental reviews before such work can take place. Jonathan J. Cooper, The Seattle Times, "Zinke says Northern California fire costs likely in billions," 27 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flammable.' 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 flammable

1813, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for flammable

Latin flammare to flame, set on fire, from flamma

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Statistics for flammable

Last Updated

10 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for flammable

The first known use of flammable was in 1813

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More Definitions for flammable



English Language Learners Definition of flammable

: capable of being set on fire and of burning quickly


flam·​ma·​ble | \ ˈfla-mə-bəl How to pronounce flammable (audio) \

Kids Definition of flammable

: capable of being easily set on fire and of burning quickly

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More from Merriam-Webster on flammable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flammable

Spanish Central: Translation of flammable

Nglish: Translation of flammable for Spanish Speakers

Comments on flammable

What made you want to look up flammable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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