from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Ignition of a substance, such as oily rags or hay, caused by a localized heat-increasing reaction between the oxidant and the fuel and not involving addition of heat from an outside source.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Combustion without an external source of heat.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adj. combustion produced in a substance by the evolution of heat through the chemical action of its own elements; as, the spontaneous combustion of waste matter saturated with oil.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. ignition of a substance (as oily rags) resulting from an internal oxidation process
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Mr. Barnabas had come striding from his house in the Crescent, had turned the corner, and was apparently marching on to the little tobacconist’s at the end of the street, where it was his custom to stop and pick up a copy of the Times and the Standard, when unfortunately he stepped into the fourth dimension or was the victim of spontaneous combustion or some sort of accident to an atom.
"I think it must have been spontaneous combustion in the paint-locker.