tin·der·box | \ˈtin-dər-ˌbäks \

Definition of tinderbox 

1a : a metal box for holding tinder and usually a flint and steel for striking a spark

b : a highly inflammable object or place

2 : a potentially explosive place or situation

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Examples of tinderbox in a Sentence

That old house is really a tinderbox. the city has been a tinderbox ever since racial profiling became an issue

Recent Examples on the Web

In the past few years the sparks of jihad have been struck in this tinderbox. The Economist, "Jihadists are trying to take over the Sahel," 12 July 2018 When in doubt, don't light that campfire Given the miserable winter the West had this year, camping this summer feels like pitching a tent in the middle of a tinderbox. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, "8 Tips for (Responsibly) Camping in Fire Season," 22 June 2018 That includes trying to clean up as much woodland as possible before temperatures rise and the land becomes a tinderbox. Barry Hatton, The Christian Science Monitor, "Portugal races to protect its citizens against wildfires – with goats," 13 June 2018 Of Congo’s tinderboxes, Ituri is the most combustible. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "Caught in Congo’s tides of war," 6 Apr. 2018 Managing in the major leagues with a tinderbox bullpen is excruciating. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Dodgers' bullpen follows the same script and lets the Diamondbacks steal one in 4-3 loss," 2 May 2018 The Blue Devils have signed the top three recruits in America, but despite the talent those are teenagers who could get rattled in a 7,039-seat tinderbox. 2. Teddy Greenstein, chicagotribune.com, "If not Loyola, here's a wish list of opponents to open the new Welsh-Ryan Arena," 18 Apr. 2018 The Israelis don't want part of this particular fight given all the complexities of the people who are on the ground in Syria and the different alliances, just what a tinderbox that could cause out here. Fox News, "Gorka on Syria strike: US is duty-bound to respond to Assad," 13 Apr. 2018 King’s murder on April 4, 1968, on a motel balcony in Memphis silenced the civil rights movement's most persuasive, gifted and foresighted leader and lit tinderboxes across the country. Mark Curnutte, USA TODAY, "50 years after his death, King's America still a world of trouble," 13 Jan. 2018

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

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Dictionary Entries near tinderbox





tinder fungus


tin dichloride

Statistics for tinderbox

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Time Traveler for tinderbox

The first known use of tinderbox was in 1530

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More Definitions for tinderbox



English Language Learners Definition of tinderbox

: a box that holds material that can be used to start a fire easily : a container for tinder

: a structure that would burn very quickly if it caught on fire

: a place or situation that could suddenly become very violent

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Comments on tinderbox

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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