Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Easily ignited and capable of burning rapidly; flammable.
  • adjective Quickly or easily aroused to strong emotion; excitable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Capable of being set on fire; susceptible of combustion; easily fired.
  • Easily excited or inflamed; highly excitable.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Capable of being easily set fire; easily enkindled; combustible.
  • adjective Excitable; irritable; irascible; easily provoked.
  • adjective the old chemical name for hydrogen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Capable of burning; easily set on fire.
  • adjective figuratively Easily excited; set off by the slightest excuse; easily enraged or inflamed.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective easily ignited

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, liable to inflammation, from Medieval Latin īnflammābilis, from Latin īnflammāre, to inflame; see inflame.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin as if *inflammabilis, from inflammare ("to set on fire"), from in ("in, on") + flamma ("flame").

Examples

  • Robert Boyle had before 1671 dissolved iron in dilute hydrochloric acid and prepared what he described as the inflammable solution of Mars [Iron].

    Hydrogen

  • Robert Boyle had before 1671 dissolved iron in dilute hydrochloric acid and prepared what he described as the inflammable solution of Mars [Iron].

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  • Robert Boyle had before 1671 dissolved iron in dilute hydrochloric acid and prepared what he described as the inflammable solution of Mars [Iron].

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  • Up until about 30 years ago flammable substances were often described as inflammable (as in the word 'inflame') but this was dangerous as sometimes people thought that inflammable meant

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  • But the fact is that the generation of these windy flames, or fiery winds as they may be called, arises from a conflict of two bodies of exactly opposite natures; the one being highly inflammable, which is the nature of sulphur, the other abhorring flame, as the crude spirit in niter.

    The New Organon

  • Ralph Touchett had praised his cousin for being morally inflammable, that is for being quick to take a hint that was meant as good advice.

    The Portrait of a Lady

  • Ralph Touchett had praised his cousin for being morally inflammable, that is for being quick to take a hint that was meant as good advice.

    The Portrait of a Lady

  • Ralph Touchett had praised his cousin for being morally inflammable, that is for being quick to take a hint that was meant as good advice.

    The Portrait of a Lady — Volume 1

  • Cavendish, made in 1766, that hydrogen gas, called inflammable air, is at least seven times lighter than atmospheric air.

    Up in the Clouds Balloon Voyages

  • Mr. Cavendish has shewn that the gas called inflammable air, is at least ten times lighter than common air;

    The Botanic Garden A Poem in Two Parts. Part 1: the Economy of Vegetation

Comments

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  • Flammable and inflmmable both mean combustible. Although "inflammable" is the older, and some say the preferred, word (derived from "inflame,") "flammable" was adopted as the preferred word of caution on trucks, etc. because people began to think that something that was "in-flammable" must be "in-combustible!"

    Now isn't that funny?

    June 17, 2007

  • I like to call flame-retardant items "ininflammable". ;)

    October 30, 2007

  • I think I read (a long, long time ago) in The Elements of Style that "flammable" was a word created for the safety of idiots and small children. His words, not mine.

    December 1, 2007