ig·​nite | \ig-ˈnīt \
ignited; igniting

Definition of ignite 

transitive verb

1a : to set afire also : kindle

b : to cause (a fuel) to burn

2 : to subject to fire or intense heat especially : to render luminous by heat

3a : to heat up : excite oppression that ignited the hatred of the people

b : to set in motion : spark ignite a debate

intransitive verb

1 : to catch fire

2 : to begin to glow

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Other Words from ignite

ignitability \ig-​ˌnī-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
ignitable or less commonly ignitible \ig-​ˈnī-​tə-​bəl \ adjective
igniter or less commonly ignitor \ig-​ˈnī-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for ignite


burn, enkindle, fire, inflame (also enflame), kindle, light, torch


douse (also dowse), extinguish, put out, quench, snuff (out)

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Examples of ignite in a Sentence

The fire was ignited by sparks. The paper ignited on contact with sparks. a material that ignites easily Three wins in a row ignited the team. His proposal is igniting opposition.
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Recent Examples on the Web

This increases the likelihood of people igniting fires and the damage from the fires that do occur. Umair Irfan, Vox, "California’s late-season wildfires have torched 84,000 acres — and are spreading fast," 9 Nov. 2018 The buyer simply has to sign an affidavit stating that the fireworks will not be ignited in Idaho. Nicole Blanchard, idahostatesman, "Idaho agencies bracing for 'interesting,' 'above-average' wildfire season," 28 June 2018 The Model X driver, Walter Huang, died March 23 when his vehicle crashed into a concrete lane divider and careened into oncoming lanes, obliterating the crossover and igniting a fire. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Tesla Model X driver killed in California crash wasn't holding steering wheel, NTSB says," 7 June 2018 Eight months after reports of his abusive behavior ignited the #MeToo movement last fall, Harvey Weinstein appeared in a packed Manhattan courtroom to plead his innocence on Tuesday. Maureen O'connor, The Cut, "The Courthouse Scene at Harvey Weinstein’s Arraignment," 5 June 2018 As anyone who has tried to flirt with someone over social media knows, comments and tagging are the kindling to igniting the fire of any modern relationship. Sarah Midkiff, refinery29.com, "Pete Davidson & Ariana Grande Made It Official With...Tattoos," 2 June 2018 There is a real danger that careless rhetoric such as Mr Wray’s will ignite the same kind of bigotry that was once targeted at Japan and serve only to confuse a vital debate about China’s global behaviour. The Economist, "Surging numbers of Chinese people going abroad should be welcomed," 17 May 2018 Authorities on Monday recovered the remains of three victims from amid the wreckage of a plane that crashed and ignited a forest fire last week in a remote and rugged wilderness area near Volcan Mountain. City News Service, Ramona Sentinel, "Deputies recover bodies of plane crash victims," 14 May 2018 On April 6, 1968, according to news accounts and court documents, a Molotov cocktail was tossed into the spaghetti restaurant, followed by a bucket of gasoline, igniting a fire. Jean Marbella, baltimoresun.com, "The fire both times: Baltimore riots after Martin Luther King's death 50 years ago left scars that remain," 28 Mar. 2018

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

1666, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for ignite

Latin ignitus, past participle of ignire to ignite, from ignis

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Statistics for ignite

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ignite

The first known use of ignite was in 1666

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More Definitions for ignite



English Language Learners Definition of ignite

: to set (something) on fire : to cause (something) to burn

: to begin burning : to catch fire

: to give life or energy to (someone or something)


ig·​nite | \ig-ˈnīt \
ignited; igniting

Kids Definition of ignite

1 : to set on fire : light ignite newspaper

2 : to catch fire But the entire Oklahoma Panhandle is so dry, everything is … ready to ignite.— Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust

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More from Merriam-Webster on ignite

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ignite

Spanish Central: Translation of ignite

Nglish: Translation of ignite for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ignite for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ignite

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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