tin·​der·​box | \ ˈtin-dər-ˌbäks How to pronounce tinderbox (audio) \

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 The trifecta of fatigue, winter weather and holiday travel that has led to more coronavirus transmission across the country hit here, too — and became the match that lit the tinderbox. Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. was uniquely vulnerable to this COVID catastrophe. Here is what went wrong," 28 Dec. 2020 The unusual duration of critical fire weather, extremely dry vegetation and an even drier air mass has created a tinderbox of sorts in parts of the state. Pedram Javaheri, CNN, "Southern California braces for extreme fire weather as preemptive power shutoffs begin," 3 Dec. 2020 The tinderbox setwork required an actual fire-suppression system, too, made up of 100 functioning fireplugs, 67 sprinkler units, and concealed fire-fighting towers equipped with powerful spray nozzles. Cory Graff, Popular Mechanics, "How Hollywood Set Designers Hid America’s WWII Aircraft Factories," 8 Nov. 2020 Scientists blame warming for record-breaking temperatures, less dependable precipitation and reduced moisture in the air, factors that helped create a tinderbox in the West. Anne C. Mulkern, Scientific American, "California’s Mega-Fires Have Arrived 30 Years Early," 20 Oct. 2020 In the week before Election Day, Pennsylvania has been a tinderbox of voting anxiety. Washington Post, "Last week in the life of Philadelphia: A death, protests, the pandemic and election mayhem," 1 Nov. 2020 Broadway veteran Leslie Goddard helms a candid comedy about who gets to make which hard choices in the tinderbox of parenthood and class in the United States. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: Oct. 19-25," 18 Oct. 2020 But this year, drought worsened by climate change turned the wetlands into a tinderbox and the fires raged out of control. Scott Reinhard, New York Times, "The World’s Largest Tropical Wetland Has Become an Inferno," 13 Oct. 2020 Even then, there is a difference between living in the Bay Area and living in the tinderbox that the wine country has become. Dave Eggers, The New Yorker, "All That Could Burn," 11 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for tinderbox

Time Traveler

The first known use of tinderbox was in 1530

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Statistics for tinderbox

Last Updated

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tinderbox.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinderbox. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce tinderbox (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tinderbox

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tinderbox

Nglish: Translation of tinderbox for Spanish Speakers

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