in·​cen·​di·​ary | \ in-ˈsen-dē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce incendiary (audio) ; -ˈsen-də-rē How to pronounce incendiary (audio) , -dyə- \

Definition of incendiary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : igniting combustible materials spontaneously
b : of, relating to, or being a weapon (such as a bomb) designed to start fires
2 : tending to excite or inflame : inflammatory incendiary speeches
3 : of, relating to, or involving arson : arsonous
4 : extremely hot incendiary chili peppers


plural incendiaries

Definition of incendiary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person who excites factions, quarrels, or sedition : agitator
2a : a substance or weapon (such as a bomb) used to start fires
b : a person who commits arson : arsonist

Synonyms for incendiary

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of incendiary in a Sentence

Adjective While visual effects experts work with images, mechanical effects experts work with machinery, tools, incendiary devices, and other equipment to manipulate physical events during live-action filming. — Patricia D. Netzley, Encyclopedia of Movie Special Effects, 2000 In the mid-Eighties, heavy-metal music was the incendiary genre being demonized … — Alan Light, Rolling Stone, 18 Feb. 1993 The only caveat … is to know one's own sensitivity to chili pepper heat. If a small or moderate dose of capsicum (the incendiary chemical component in chilies) makes you dash for a glass of ice water, this menu is not going to be fun for you. — Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 15 Mar. 1991 The fire was started by an incendiary bomb. recklessly made incendiary remarks during a period of heightened racial tensions Noun He was convinced that the arsonist was not at all what the town imagined: not brazen, but callow; not an expert incendiary noiselessly plying deer paths, but someone who was driving right up to his targets and fumbling with matches … — Barry Werth, New England Monthly, February 1989 White phosphorus, an incendiary, is normally packed in thin-walled casings; the casing is effective for dispersing chemical agents as well. — Stephen Budiansky, Nature, 5–11 Apr. 1984 The British had also made jellied gasoline with rubber, and it was generally recognized to be an excellent incendiary because of its easy ignition, high heat of combustion, and controlled burning rate. — B. & F. M. Brodie, From Crossbow to H-Bomb, 1973 firefighters caught the incendiary, who was watching the effects of his handiwork blamed the protests on outside incendiaries who were intent on overthrowing the government See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Anti-fascist organizers and researchers have been pushing tech companies to deplatform white supremacists for their incendiary, threatening speech that often targets people of color, women and religious minorities. Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2021 In an incendiary New York Post piece published shortly after the NIH study appeared, several contestants alleged that they had been given drugs like Adderall and supplements like ephedra to enhance fat burning. Nick Heil, Outside Online, 26 Mar. 2020 An incendiary mural exposes everyone’s secret hook-ups at Hartley High. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 11 Sep. 2022 That incendiary situation inevitably gives his latest work, No Bears (Khers Nist), heightened impact. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Sep. 2022 Set during a weekend in Wyoming, where four graduates of a small Catholic college have returned for a celebration with their mentor, the play is one of incendiary ideas about religion and the country’s future. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2022 FOX Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb has retracted his incendiary report about Freddie Freeman's departure from the Atlanta Braves, which caused a stir and prompted the filing of a lawsuit earlier this summer. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2022 Buoyed by the results, LeMay launched the same type of incendiary raids for the next five months in other major cities: Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe. Bob Carden,, 1 Sep. 2022 In 1990, Helms’s ad was denounced as false and incendiary. William Mcgurn, WSJ, 22 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The handful of structures that survived the inferno, including the doctors’ wood-frame residences, were torched the next night, after the incendiaries came back and took a battering ram to the Women’s Hospital. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, 8 May 2020 After two nights of intensive bombing with high explosives and incendiaries, several square miles burn for hours at hundreds of degrees Centigrade, an inferno consuming every living creature. Matthew Sturgis, The New York Review of Books, 21 Mar. 2019 Hamas, in turn, has staged weekly riots at the Gaza barrier and unleashed flying incendiaries that have wreaked massive ecological damage. WSJ, 6 Nov. 2018 Among the authors were right-wing incendiaries like Michael Savage, Mark Levin and Ann Coulter. John Sharp,, 4 Feb. 2018 White phosphorus, along with other incendiaries, has been used by Syrian government forces battling insurgents in Aleppo and elsewhere. Anne Barnard, New York Times, 10 June 2017 The bombardier dropped four incendiaries, setting the factory ablaze. National Geographic, 15 Apr. 2017 But incendiaries, barrel bombs and missiles can do just as much damage to civilians as gas — which Assad didn’t necessarily use or intend to use in the future, anyway. Leonid Bershidsky, The Denver Post, 22 Apr. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incendiary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of incendiary


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for incendiary

Noun and Adjective

Middle English, from Latin incendiarius, from incendium conflagration, from incendere

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Time Traveler for incendiary

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The first known use of incendiary was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near incendiary



incendiary bomb

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Last Updated

27 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incendiary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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Britannica English: Translation of incendiary for Arabic Speakers


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