Flammable and inflammable

By Mary Morel

Flammable means able to be set aflame.
Inflammable means able to be set aflame, easily excited or disturbed.

Confused? Yes, they really do mean the same thing.

According to the Macquarie Dictionary traditionally inflammable meant likely to burn easily, but to avoid a false analogy with other words such as inactive in which the in means ‘not’,  flammable was adopted as the standard warning in labelling goods.

The opposite is nonflammable.

My recommendation is to use flammable and nonflammable and forget about inflammable.

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