#atozchallenge: Inflammable

Prepare to be mind-blown: "inflammable" and "flammable" mean the same thing.

There is a subtle difference: you want to use the word "flammable" when you want to tell people that something will burn. Its opposite is "non-flammable."

"Inflammable" is a good way to describe emotions or situations. So a romance that’s about to blossom or a conflict that’s about to explode can be said to be inflammable. In this case, the "in-" prefix is actually derived from the Latin preposition in, which has a number of meanings. Kind of like "on fire," in this case.

Many flammable products will have a warning like this in their directions:

Flammable materials sold in New York City require a "certificate of fitness" (I think the "A" stands for "application"; anybody?) be issued by the FDNY to certify that the product can be handled correctly. I’ve seen that on cans of flammable materials for years and never quite understood what it meant. The things you learn in this job…

They never put a message like this on cans of Lemon Pledge. Perhaps they should have…

26 thoughts on “#atozchallenge: Inflammable

  1. Mind is definitely blown. Nice little tidbit to find a way to work into pleasant conversation. I almost used inadvertently in a work email this week but stopped myself. Didn’t want to sound hoity toity. Oh wait that’d be indubitably. Don’t mind me, just being silly. lol

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