tin·​der | \ ˈtin-dər How to pronounce tinder (audio) \

Definition of tinder

1 : a very flammable substance adaptable for use as kindling
2 : something that serves to incite or inflame that rhetoric was ready tinder for revolution— Margaret Peters

Examples of tinder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This, as any young or digitally-savvy person would have guessed, was like tinder to a viral flame. Emily Farra, Vogue, "It’s 2019—Why Are We Still Debating the Appropriateness of Leggings?," 29 Mar. 2019 The blaze that broke out July 27 initially spread quickly because of what officials said was a perfect combination of weather, rugged topography and abundant brush and timber turned to tinder by years of drought. Fox News, "Battling 18 blazes, California may face worst fire season," 9 Aug. 2018 Public policy has badly overegged the incentive for homeowners to build in its tinder-dry forest and wilderness areas. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "California Burns for Better Leaders," 15 Jan. 2019 When a forest is dry as a tinder box, a spark (whether lightning or electrical-line malfunction) or wayward flame can start a blaze. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "What is going on with California’s horrific fires?," 13 Nov. 2018 Following years of drought and a summer of record-breaking heat, immense tracts of forests, chaparral and grasslands have become tinder that allows even a small spark to explode into a devouring blaze, authorities said. Fox News, "Back to rubble, some 'lost everything' in California fire," 2 Aug. 2018 The searing, record-setting heat that followed this year dried out plants, leaving many parts of the West coated in tinder. Umair Irfan, Vox, "The West is on fire ... again," 2 Aug. 2018 The soaking in both states comes in stark contrast to the tinder-dry conditions of the American Southwest, which is experiencing drought and an early wildfire season. NBC News, "Floating bears, rescued campers as Montana and Texas flood," 22 June 2018 For tinder, stuff petroleum jelly–soaked cotton balls into a couple of film canisters. Nick Davidson, Outside Online, "The Ultimate DIY Bug-Out Bag," 27 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of tinder

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tinder

Middle English, from Old English tynder; akin to Old High German zuntra tinder, Old English tendan to kindle

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tinder

Statistics for tinder

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tinder

The first known use of tinder was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tinder



English Language Learners Definition of tinder

: dry material (such as wood or grass) that burns easily and can be used to start a fire


tin·​der | \ ˈtin-dər How to pronounce tinder (audio) \

Kids Definition of tinder

: material that burns easily and can be used as kindling

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tinder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tinder

Spanish Central: Translation of tinder

Nglish: Translation of tinder for Spanish Speakers

Comments on tinder

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


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!