Difference Between Flammable and Inflammable
Flammable versus Inflammable
Ever wondered if they are opposites, or if a subtle technical distinction exists… Well, etymologically, the Latin word flammare means ‘to set on fire’ and the suffix is -able.
As an adjective flammable has comparative expression ‘more flammable’, with the superlative being ‘most flammable’.
In short, flammable means Capable of burning, especially a liquid; or something easily set on fire; Or, material subject to easy ignition and rapid flaming combustion.
Now do not get confused with its synonyms ‘inflammable’. It is not its opposite. The prefix ‘in’ rather adds to its character. However, its antonyms are ‘flammable and nonflammable’.
Flammability defines how easily something can burn or ignite, causing fire. The degree of difficulty needed to combust a material is quantified through fire testing. Globally, many test protocols do quantify flammability. The ratings are used in building codes, insurance, fire codes and rules pertaining to the use of building materials as well as the storage and handling of highly flammable substances inside and outside some premises and in surface and air transport. For instance, changing an occupancy by altering the flammability of the contents requires the building owner to seek a building permit to cope with the overall fire protection aspect.
Flammable liquids include, but are not limited to:
Gasoline / a complicated mixture of hydrocarbons that includes isomers of octane, C8H18;
Ethanol / CH3CH2OH; Isopropanol / CH3CH(OH)CH3; Methanol / CH3OH; Acetone / CH3COCH3; Nitromethane / CH3NO2
In contrast, nonflammable liquids include Water; Carbon tetrachloride.
Flammable vs Inflammable
The word ‘inflammable’ derives from Latin ‘inflammāre’ ;to set fire to’, where the prefix means ‘in’ as in ‘inside’, rather than ‘not’ as in ‘invisible’ or ‘ineligible’. Yet, inflammable is often mistaken to mean ‘non-flammable’. To avoid this safety hazard, ‘flammable’, despite not being the proper Latin-derived term, is now commonly used on warning labels when referring to physical combustibility
flammable (ˈflæməb ə l)
liable to catch fire; readily combustible; inflammable
Flammable and inflammable are interchangeable when used of the properties of materials. Flammable is, however, often preferred for warning labels as there is less likelihood of misunderstanding ( inflammable being mistaken as not flammable ). Inflammable is preferred in figurative contexts: this could prove to be an inflammable situation
this is a verbatim from encarta dictionary (a product of Microsoft)
flammable or inflammable? Although inflammable looks like the opposite of flammable, the two words actually have the same meaning, both describing something that is easily set on fire. The in- prefix of inflammable means ‘into’, rather than ‘not’, and the adjective is ultimately derived from the same Latin word as the verb inflame. In view of the potentially disastrous consequences of such misinterpretation, flammable has become the word of choice, especially in the labeling of commercial and industrial products. The word most frequently used to convey the opposite meaning is nonflammable.
Posted under: Terms
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