Word of the Day : September 13, 2021
What It Means
Inflammable describes things that can easily catch fire. It also means “easily excited or angered.”
// The gas is highly inflammable.
// The messenger trembled as he stuttered out the news of the army’s defeat to the highly inflammable king.
“First, butane is inflammable (or flammable—whichever way you like to say it).” — Rhett Allain, Wired, 31 Mar. 2016
“‘Don’t trouble about it, Clym. They may get to be friends.’ He shook his head. ‘Not two people with inflammable natures like theirs.'” — Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native, 1878
Did you know?
Combustible and incombustible are opposites but flammable and inflammable are synonyms. Why? The in- of incombustible is a common prefix meaning “not,” but the in- of inflammable is a different prefix. Inflammable comes from Latin inflammare (“to inflame”), itself from in– (here meaning “in” or “into”) plus flammare (“to flame”). Flammable also comes from flammare. In the early 20th century, firefighters worried that people might think inflammable meant “not able to catch fire,” so they adopted flammable and nonflammable as official safety labels and encouraged their use to prevent confusion. In general use, flammable is now the preferred term for describing things that can catch fire, but inflammable is still occasionally used with that meaning as well.