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

Pohlman notes that the Agalliu Lab of Neuroscience at Columbia University received $2 million from the NIH to research the genesis of how strep is igniting the immune system and brain. Erin Quinn-kong, Good Housekeeping, "Their Son Tested Positive for Strep Throat. Then Came the Severe OCD, Anxiety, and Hallucinations.," 2 Jan. 2019 The likelihood of igniting wildfires continues to rise as populations grow and people build their homes closer to fire-prone areas. Umair Irfan, Vox, "What we learned from the disasters that hammered the US in 2018," 27 Dec. 2018 The massive wildfire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes in the town of Paradise and surrounding communities was fully contained over the weekend after igniting more than two weeks ago. Jonathan J. Cooper, The Seattle Times, "Zinke says Northern California fire costs likely in billions," 27 Nov. 2018 Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese professor believed to have played a key role in igniting the Russia probe, vanished from public eye after his name began surfacing in news stories. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "DNC says Papadopoulos tipster and key figure in Russia case might be dead," 10 Sep. 2018 California fire officials have cited a 46-year-old Yolo County man for allegedly starting a large blaze that has scorched 90,000 acres in Yolo and Napa counties after igniting along a rural highway on June 30. Javier Panzar, latimes.com, "Man cited in Northern California fire sparked by faulty electric fence," 12 July 2018 Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting. Melissa Neeley, Cincinnati.com, "Fireworks may be to blame for sparking garage fire," 8 July 2018 But luckily, the woman who brought a Molotov cocktail to a Union City, California, preschool was unsuccessful in igniting the improvised explosive, according to police. Jared Gilmour, sacbee, "She tried lighting a Molotov cocktail — next to a California preschool, video shows," 14 June 2018 The Soyuz will move farther and farther away from the ISS for a couple of hours before igniting its engines at 7:57AM ET to take the capsule out of Earth’s orbit. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Watch three astronauts return to Earth from the International Space station this weekend," 2 June 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

18 Feb 2019

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 express emotion in a dramatic way

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