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Back-formation from inflammable, which is used to avoid confusion with non-flammable, as the prefix in- is often used to mean "un-; non-", although it was originally meant in a sense closely related to en-.


  • IPA(key): /ˈflæməbəl/
  • (file)


flammable (comparative more flammable, superlative most flammable)

  1. Capable of burning, especially a liquid.
    flammable liquid
  2. Easily set on fire.
  3. Subject to easy ignition and rapid flaming combustion.
  4. (figurative) Very likely to cause fighting or controversy; extremely contentious.
    • 1971, United States. Department of Defense, United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, page 42:
      In considering the possible commitment of U.S. forces to South Vietnam , the Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the overall critical situation in Southeast Asia with particular emphasis upon the present highly flammable situation in South Vietnam.
    • 2002, Gregory Toledo, The Hanging of Old Brown, page 27:
      They could stuff their ears with cotton, but they could not, after all, fight such flammable ideas ( at least not in the public squares where Attucks's war whoops could still be heard ).
    • 2004, Elizabeth Prioleau, Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love:
      With her play Diamond Lil, she discovered a way to sneak her flammable subject matter past the censors.
    • 2015, Adriaan Groenewald, Seamless Leadership: A passion to perform in South Africa:
      King's words touch on a higher law of leadership, that the solution to a sensitive and highly contentious and even flammable situation often lies in doing the opposite of what is expected and even perceived as normal or 'natural'.
    • 2021, Esra Gultakin, In the Shallows: Awaken Your Mind:
      Evelyn realized that Adam's flammable words and angry eyes were only the form of his untold pain, holding the strongest words of his heart, unspoken.





flammable (plural flammables)

  1. Any flammable substance.