The word inflammable is defined as:
‘An inflammable substance or material burns very easily’
Note that inflammable means a substance (liquid, gas, or solid) that is readily (easily) combustible.
Inflammable is an adjective.
This word is often confused because it begins with ‘in’, which is a prefix often used to describe something that is not the word after. For example, insecure means not secure and inanimate means not animated i.e. lifeless.
In the context of inflammable, this word can often be used interchangeably with the word flammable, because both words correspond to a substance that combusts (catches fire and is burnt) easily.
What is the Difference Between Inflammable and Flammable
You may ask why both inflammable and flammable exist as words. The reason is in their derivation. Inflammable is derived from the Latin verb inflammare, which is literally the cause of the action (i.e. verb) of something catching fire. Flammable is also derived from Latin but from the verb flammare, which translates to ‘to catch fire’ i.e. the action (doing word i.e. verb) of catching fire, not the cause of the action of catching fire (inflammare).
When looking at the Latin derivations, think of describing the heat from the sun causing an arid moorland to catch fire vs describing a moorland that has caught fire.
Hopefully, this article has attempted to explain an answer to the question of what is the difference between inflammable and flammable. Please ask a teacher or use relevant textbooks/dictionaries to understand this topic further.
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