RE: Flammable vs Inflammable

Subject: RE: Flammable vs Inflammable
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "B.J. Smith" <bjsmith -at- ucar -dot- edu>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:46:08 -0700

B.J. Smith wrote:

> I was confused by these terms until I learned that something that is
> inflammable can go up in flams just as easily as something that is
> flammable. I prefer to conserve characters: flammable.

Once upon a time, inflammable meant easily set on fire (think "inflamed"), while flammable simply meant capable of burning.

But the prefix "in" is so often used to negate something (incomplete, incoherent, indefinite, etc.) that many people assumed inflammable meant not capable of burning.

That confusion could be dangerous. So nowadays, it's best to use flammable in all cases, never inflammable.

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom

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