spontaneous combustion


Definition of spontaneous combustion

: self-ignition of combustible material through chemical action (such as oxidation) of its constituents

called also spontaneous ignition

Examples of spontaneous combustion in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web It is known for spontaneous combustion, not just combustion. New York Times, "Corrections: Dec. 13, 2020," 13 Dec. 2020 Here’s an overdose in one room, and a person stabbed with an ancient sword in another, a snakebite on the second floor of a hotel, a spontaneous combustion, a man in skeleton makeup cackling through a compound fracture. Katie Walsh, chicagotribune.com, "'Synchronic’ review: A unique, sci-fi-tinged drama rooted in real-world stakes and emotion," 20 Oct. 2020 Those conditions are borne out in Dickens’s fiction, which is filled with death of all kinds (murder, drowning, and in once case spontaneous combustion). Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Personal History of David Copperfield and Emma Are Perfect Movies for a Pandemic," 16 Sep. 2020 Famous for their electric-blue fire (created by the spontaneous combustion of subterranean gasses) and toxic yellow smoke, the mines would make an interesting photography project, Louie thought. Michael Hardy, Wired, "Meet the Sulfur Miners Risking Their Lives Inside a Volcano," 17 Feb. 2020 When the two chemicals came into contact with one another, there was a spontaneous combustion reaction that would propel the ascent module off of the descent module and into lunar orbit. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "The Art of the Return Trip: How NASA Got Apollo 11 Home," 24 July 2019 In February, the 3,865-square-foot home was damaged by a freak fire, caused by spontaneous combustion of a pile of dead grass, in which luckily nobody was hurt, Mary Wise of Keller Williams Central tells CountryLiving.com. Jenae Sitzes, Country Living, "The Surprising Reason a Fire-Damaged House Was the Most Popular Home in Texas Real Estate," 28 Apr. 2017 Much of the IndyDrum plant was heavily damaged in a May 2014 fire caused by spontaneous combustion of chemicals that had been mixed with sawdust used to clean drums. Rick Barrett, USA TODAY, "Drum refurbishing plant, where worker safety problems were cited, closes suddenly," 20 Dec. 2017

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

1795, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for spontaneous combustion

Time Traveler

The first known use of spontaneous combustion was in 1795

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Statistics for spontaneous combustion

Last Updated

23 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spontaneous combustion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spontaneous%20combustion. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for spontaneous combustion

spontaneous combustion


English Language Learners Definition of spontaneous combustion

technical : burning that is caused by chemical actions inside of something rather than by heat from the outside

spontaneous combustion


Kids Definition of spontaneous combustion

: a bursting of material into flame from the heat produced within itself through chemical action

More from Merriam-Webster on spontaneous combustion

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spontaneous combustion

Comments on spontaneous combustion

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