Definitions

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

  • n. A metal box for holding tinder.
  • n. A potentially explosive place or situation: referred to the crowded prison as a tinderbox of suppressed violence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small container containing flint, steel, and tinder (dry, finely-divided fibrous matter), once used to help kindle a fire.
  • n. a place that is so dry and hot that there is danger of fire.
  • n. a potentially dangerous situation.

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

  • n. a dangerous state of affairs; a situation that is a potential source of violence
  • n. a box for holding tinder

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • All homes in tinderbox zones should be designed so that the likelihood of fires spreading to other homes is reduced.

    What Is the State of U.S. Disaster-Preparedness? A Freakonomics Quorum - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com

  • George Clooney travelled to Sudan as part of an international effort to defuse the short term tinderbox of a controversial poll.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • The tinderbox is a system set up 40 years ago to make changes in the Legislature-approved budget when lawmakers aren't in session.

    Las Vegas Sun Stories: All Sun Headlines

  • Years of drought in the Tehachapi area, along with tree diseases and bugs among the foothills 'pine and chaparral, have turned the area into a "tinderbox," said county fire Battalion Chief David Goodell.

    Tehachapi Fire Burns Dozens Of Homes, Threatens 150

  • And the president should have done it earlier, is lay out what kind of tinderbox situation we have in the Middle East.

    CNN Transcript Sep 13, 2007

  • MARTIN: You know, similarly, Mary Kate, your former boss, in the days after the Los Angeles riots in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, also, you know, faced a similar, it's not quite the same thing, but a very sort of similar kind of tinderbox situation.

    NPR Topics: News

  • Years of drought in the Tehachapi area, along with tree diseases and bugs among the foothills 'pine and chaparral, have turned the area into a "tinderbox," said county fire Battalion Chief

    10News.com - Local News

  • Years of drought, along with tree diseases and bugs among the foothills 'pine and chaparral, have turned the area into a "tinderbox," Goodell said.

    SacBee -- Latest News

  • Years of drought in the Tehachapi area, along with tree diseases and bugs among the foothills 'pine and chaparral, have turned the area into a "tinderbox," said county fire

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • Bill Richardson called a "tinderbox" after returning from a visit to the North

    chron.com Chronicle

Comments

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  • In your darkest hour he is the tiniest light
    The smallest of sparks
    He's a tinderbox, he's a flaming torch.

    (The life pursuit, by Belle and Sebastian)

    November 10, 2010

  • "The surge-ified, 'less violent' Iraq that the general has presided over so confidently is, in fact, a chaotic, violent tinderbox of city states, proliferating militias armed to the teeth, competing regions armed to the teeth, and competing religious factions armed to the teeth. Worse yet, under Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the U.S. has been the great proliferator. It has armed and funded close to 100,000 Sunnis organized into militias reportedly intent on someday destroying 'the Iranians' (i.e. the Maliki government). It has also supported Shiite militias (aka the Iraqi army). In the recent offensive, it took sides in a churning Shiite civil war."
    - 'General Entrap-Us or General Entrapped?', Ira Chernus, 6 April 2008.

    April 7, 2008

  • Historically, a tinderbox is a small container containing flint, steel, and dry, finely-divided fibrous matter (such as straw), used together to help kindle a fire. Tinderboxes fell out of general usage when matches were invented.
    _Wikipedia

    February 24, 2008