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

Instead, the warehouse’s conditions — flammable wood, tapestries, makeshift stairs and nearly no safety equipment — made the space an unsafe tinderbox, prosecutors said. Megan Cassidy, SFChronicle.com, "Ghost Ship trial: Big takeaways after prosecution rests its case," 5 June 2019 The new fighting is afflicting a state that was already a tinderbox of racial violence. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Buddhist Violence Portends New Threat to Myanmar," 4 Jan. 2019 The Camp Fire and the 98,400-acre Woolsey Fire in southern California were fueled by fierce winds in unusually dry weather, which turned much of the state into a tinderbox. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "Trump Calls for Better Forest Management During California Visit," 17 Nov. 2018 That includes trying to clean up as much woodland as possible before temperatures rise and the land becomes a tinderbox. Washington Post, "Send in the goats: Portugal goes low-tech to beat wildfires," 14 June 2018 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

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

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on tinderbox

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tinderbox

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tinderbox

Nglish: Translation of tinderbox for Spanish Speakers

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