Young World

Inflammable is flammable

The words flammable and inflammable are often misinterpreted as opposites. As a matter of fact, flammable and inflammable mean exactly the same — capable of burning.

Eg:Petrol is highly flammable.

They threw inflammable objects into the bonfire to keep it burning through the night.

The first syllable in inflammable, ‘in’ is often confused for the negative prefix ‘in’, used to form the opposite of words (visible-invisible, active-inactive). The ‘in’ prefix in inflammable is derived from the Latin prefix ‘en’ meaning to cause a person or thing to be in (as in enslave, encourage).

The word inflammable came into use in the 15th century while flammable came in later in the 19th century, as people were interpreting inflammable as not flammable and that could get quite dangerous!

So, if you have an inflammable sleeping bag and think it’s safe to sleep near a fire, then you are mistaken — because inflammable means flammable!

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Printable version | Jan 9, 2021 10:44:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/idioms-in-everyday-conversation/article7969566.ece

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