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 Theories include everything from a coating on the airship’s exterior that proved flammable to an internal puncture to sabotage. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Why all the hoopla about hydrogen?," 19 Feb. 2021 Not with the Nets looking so vulnerable defensively and depth-wise in support of their flammable trio. Marc Stein, New York Times, "Anthony Davis Is the Teammate LeBron James Has Been Waiting For," 3 Feb. 2021 Firefighters were called to the homeless encampment shortly before 10:15 a.m., where a woman who lived there had a portable heater with a flammable gas tank, fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said. Andrew Taylor, Star Tribune, "Inauguration rehearsal evacuated after fire in homeless camp," 19 Jan. 2021 Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote. oregonlive, "2021 checklist to prepare your family for an emergency at home or in a public place," 14 Jan. 2021 Don't use them near flammable things or up against objects, including walls, and make sure nothing covers them up. Matt Jancer, Wired, "Gear and Tips to Winter-Proof Your Home and Stay Warm," 3 Jan. 2021 But on Sunday, against a flammable Eagles secondary, the Cowboys receivers doled out one burn after the next. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "With one game left, Dallas Cowboys keep NFL playoff hopes alive by beating Philadelphia Eagles," 27 Dec. 2020 The most flammable moment came last month, when Newsom attended a dinner at a pricey Napa Valley restaurant. John Myers, Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: The pandemic helps fuel a long-shot effort to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom," 20 Dec. 2020 As part of their performance Goodbye to Gravity, a local metal band, had set off sparklers which caught on the venue’s flammable polyurethane foam. The Economist, "“Collective” follows tenacious investigative journalists in Romania," 24 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for flammable

Time Traveler

The first known use of flammable was in 1813

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Statistics for flammable

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Flammable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flammable. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on flammable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flammable

Nglish: Translation of flammable for Spanish Speakers

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