In case you are wondering, "D" is my husband -- Dave Liu! As you've probably noticed, I don't update this blog often but I may post more as I've linked this to my Google+ account.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Given how there are so many fires in Calfornia lately, I thought it was an appropriate time to post the definition of "inflammable" here (from Word-A-Day), especially since it's commonly misused.

inflammable \in-FLAM-uh-bul\ adjective

  1. 1* : flammable
  2. 2 : easily inflamed, excited, or angered : irascible
Example sentence: "The U.S. Commerce Department adopted rules banning inflammable children's sleepwear in the 1970s."

Did you know? -- "Combustible" and "incombustible" are opposites but "flammable" and "inflammable" are synonyms. Why? The "in-" of "incombustible" is a common prefix meaning "not," but the "in-" of "inflammable" is a different prefix. "Inflammable," which dates back to 1605, descends from the Latin "inflammare" ("to inflame"), from "in-" (here meaning "in" or "into") plus "flammare" ("to flame"). "Flammable" also comes from "flammare," but didn't enter English until 1813. In the early 20th century, firefighters worried that people might think "inflammable" meant "not able to catch fire," so they adopted "flammable" and "nonflammable" as official safety labels and encouraged their use to prevent confusion. In general use, "flammable" is now the preferred term for describing things that can catch fire, but "inflammable" is still occasionally used with that meaning as well.

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