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Flammable, inflammable, etc.

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Thinking about it, anticompetitive is a funny word with funny meaning... like flammable and inflammable....

Just to be picky ... "flammable" isn't a word, (which is I think what you meant), there is "inflammable" and "noninflammable" only.
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Just to be picky ... "flammable" isn't a word, (which is I think what you meant), there is "inflammable" and "noninflammable" only.

Since we are being picky...is this a serious post?

It certainly is a word.

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply
post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Just to be picky ... "flammable" isn't a word, (which is I think what you meant), there is "inflammable" and "noninflammable" only.

Mr. Webster disagrees.

I think the point of confusion typically is assuming "inflammable" and "flammable" are antonyms rather than synonyms.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Just to be picky ... "flammable" isn't a word, (which is I think what you meant), there is "inflammable" and "noninflammable" only.

flammable |ˈflaməbəl|
adjective
easily set on fire : the use of highly flammable materials.
DERIVATIVES
flammability |ˌflaməˈbilətē| noun
ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from Latin flammare, from flamma ‘a flame.’
USAGE The words flammable and inflammable mean the same thing, but flammable is preferred to avoid confusion: see usage at inflammable .


nonflammable |nänˈflaməbəl|
adjective
not catching fire easily; not flammable.
USAGE See usage at inflammable .


noninflammable |ˌnäninˈflaməbəl|
adjective
not catching fire easily; not flammable.
USAGE Technically, there is no difference between nonflammable and noninflammable, but the preferred, less confusing choice is nonflammable. See also usage at inflammable .


inflammable |inˈflaməbəl|
adjective
easily set on fire : inflammable and poisonous gases.
• figurative likely to provoke strong feelings : the most inflammable issue in U.S. politics today.
DERIVATIVES
inflammability |-ˌflaməˈbilitē| noun
inflammableness noun
inflammably |-blē| adverb
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from French, or from Latin inflammare (see inflame ).
USAGE Both inflammable and flammable mean 'easily set on fire.' The opposite is nonflammable. Where there is a danger that inflammable could be understood to mean its opposite, that is, 'not easily set on fire,' flammable should be used to avoid confusion. Inflammable is usually used figuratively or in nontechnical contexts ( : his inflammable temper).


Isn't English a wonderful, non-unambiguous language?


.
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"The perfect [birth]day -- A little playtime, a good poop, and a long nap." - Tomato Greeting Cards -
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post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post

Since we are being picky...is this a serious post?

It certainly is a word.

I suspect he confused flammable/inflammable with flammatory/inflammatory.
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post

Since we are being picky...is this a serious post?

It certainly is a word.

Sorry, my age is showing. "Inflammable" is the original with "noninflammable," being it's antonym. "Flammable" with "Nonflammable" as the antonym is the newer, mostly American variation of the same thing.

People generally started using Flammable and Nonflammable because of the great confusion caused by Inflammable and Noninflammable since most people think the "in" prefix means "not" and that the "Nonin" prefix is a double negative that makes no sense. This isn't actually true but is the source of the confusion that the original poster was referring to (albeit with a couple of the terms mixed up).

The point is that the original post was making reference to this very confusion so my background/correction was entirely appropriate and actually quite correct.
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Sorry, my age is showing. "Inflammable" is the original with "noninflammable," being it's antonym. "Flammable" with "Nonflammable" as the antonym is the newer, mostly American variation of the same thing.

People generally started using Flammable and Nonflammable because of the great confusion caused by Inflammable and Noninflammable since most people think the "in" prefix means "not" and that the "Nonin" prefix is a double negative that makes no sense. This isn't actually true but is the source of the confusion that the original poster was referring to (albeit with a couple of the terms mixed up).

post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I suspect he confused flammable/inflammable with flammatory/inflammatory.

Not true (see explanation above of Tulkas actually being .. wrong!).

And please don't "pile on" with Tulkas when he criticises me personally. It's bad enough he gets away with all his personal attacks and that he has a "thing" for me and reports every even vaguely inflammatory post I make to the "teacher," I don't need everyone else joining in thanks.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Sorry, my age is showing. "Inflammable" is the original with "noninflammable," being it's antonym. "Flammable" with "Nonflammable" as the antonym is the newer, mostly American variation of the same thing.

People generally started using Flammable and Nonflammable because of the great confusion caused by Inflammable and Noninflammable since most people think the "in" prefix means "not" and that the "Nonin" prefix is a double negative that makes no sense. This isn't actually true but is the source of the confusion that the original poster was referring to (albeit with a couple of the terms mixed up).

Where are you? Even in the UK, as far as I know, gas and liquid canisters and tankers are labeled "flammable".

I think it may be your age showing... Alzheimer's!

(I'm not serious, just joking with you!)
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Sorry, my age is showing. "Inflammable" is the original with "noninflammable," being it's antonym. "Flammable" with "Nonflammable" as the antonym is the newer, mostly American variation of the same thing.

People generally started using Flammable and Nonflammable because of the great confusion caused by Inflammable and Noninflammable since most people think the "in" prefix means "not" and that the "Nonin" prefix is a double negative that makes no sense. This isn't actually true but is the source of the confusion that the original poster was referring to (albeit with a couple of the terms mixed up).

The point is that the original post was making reference to this very confusion so my background/correction was entirely appropriate and actually quite correct.

You're just being anti-noninflammable

.
"Swift generally gets you to the right way much quicker." - auxio -

"The perfect [birth]day -- A little playtime, a good poop, and a long nap." - Tomato Greeting Cards -
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"The perfect [birth]day -- A little playtime, a good poop, and a long nap." - Tomato Greeting Cards -
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post #11 of 26
Sorry, I'm going to pile.

You said "flammable is not a word". You were proved wrong. You said, "Well, it used to be not a word." Then had the nerve to claim that Tulkas was wrong? You must be a Republican.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post
Thinking about it, anticompetitive is a funny word with funny meaning... like flammable and inflammable....


Just to be picky ... "flammable" isn't a word, (which is I think what you meant), there is "inflammable" and "noninflammable" only.

Professor, I must agree with the other posters. The meaning of words and the way the are spelled do evolve. Even those that are frowned upon may become accepted because of common usage.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flammable

Flammable though has been around for a very long time -- root word: flame from Latin flammare to flame, set on fire, from flamma. Date: 1813. If you are older than that, I will be more impressed than your title, Professor. You have achieved what even modern biomedicine could not. Only in the Bible can you find such ages being possible ]


Flammable liquids (not "Inflammable liquids") is used more aptly in chemistry, for very highly combustible liquid materials; at least where I came from and the institutions I have worked with.

I am not sure if it was solely due to confusion of "in-" and "non-in", as claimed.

The English language should have followed Lewis Caroll: "Say what you mean, and mean what you say." But then again, the English language would not be as vibrant.

CGC

N.B. For a reverse, the related words "lightning" and "lightening". I frowned upon "lightening" when I see it used to refer to that bright light that precedes the roaring thunder. I was so used to "lightning". As it turned out, "lightening" was of older usage. Nonetheless, I still prefer "lightning" because it evokes something faster appropriate to the natural phenomenon, coming before the roar of thunder.

But, let us all lighten up, or we might produce lightning from all the frictions we make.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Sorry, my age is showing. "Inflammable" is the original with "noninflammable," being it's antonym. "Flammable" with "Nonflammable" as the antonym is the newer, mostly American variation of the same thing.

People generally started using Flammable and Nonflammable because of the great confusion caused by Inflammable and Noninflammable since most people think the "in" prefix means "not" and that the "Nonin" prefix is a double negative that makes no sense. This isn't actually true but is the source of the confusion that the original poster was referring to (albeit with a couple of the terms mixed up).

The point is that the original post was making reference to this very confusion so my background/correction was entirely appropriate and actually quite correct.

Dude, it shouldn't be that hard to just admit your simple mistake. It was funny, but it isn't like anyone would hold it against you. Start shovelling and trying to 'make the facts fit' in order to 'be right' and people might.

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgc0202 View Post

Professor, I must agree with the other posters. The meaning of words and the way the are spelled do evolve. Even those that are frowned upon may become accepted because of common usage.

Flammable though has been around for a very long time -- root word: flame from Latin flammare to flame, set on fire, from flamma.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flammable

Flammable liquids (not "Inflammable liquids") is used more aptly in chemistry, at least where I came from and the places I have worked with.

CGC

N.B. For a reverse, the related words "lightning" and "lightening". I frowned upon "lightening" when I see it used to refer to that bright light that precedes the roaring thunder. I was so used to "lightning". As it turned out, "lightening" was of older usage. Nonetheless, I still prefer "lightning" because it evokes something faster appropriate to the natural phenomenon, coming before the roar of thunder.

But, let us all lighten up, or we might produce lightning from all the frictions we make.

You are the single polite responder so I picked you to respond to.

Sorry "Tulkas" and "tonton" I've decided to follow Tulkas' example and report all forum violations from now on so consider yourself reported.

The problem here is that it isn't a word to me because I'm an English person born in England and use English (as defined by the Oxford dictionary) as my guide. It's the only official guide to English there is (sorry Webster's users). My copy of Oxfords says precisely what I am saying.

So after admitting I forgot about the newer American uses ("Flammable" actually hasn't been in use that long of a time, I'm not *that* old), I am still getting beat up here. No one has anything more constructive to do I guess?

Facts is facts, and I don't want to be rude, but whether it's used in the USA or in Webster's has not much to do with official "English." We (the English) did actually think up the language first after all.

I would also like to repeat for those that didn't get it, that the original poster seemed to be referring to language confusion between pairs of words of this type. For many many years one of the classic examples of this (which the poster deliberately referred to), is the whole flammable /inflammable/nonflammable/noninflammable thing which I think we can all agree is a source of confusion for many and has been for a long time. The flammable/noninflammable example was the standard example of this kind of prefix confusion used in classroom for decades. This is in fact the very reason the change was made in the USA; because lot's of people didn't understand the original.

So regardless of anything else, what I originally commented was actually rather spot on and completely appropriate and accurate. I don't understand why everyone is taking this so personal and using it as an opportunity to criticise me personally.
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Not true (see explanation above of Tulkas actually being .. wrong!).

And please don't "pile on" with Tulkas when he criticises me personally. It's bad enough he gets away with all his personal attacks and that he has a "thing" for me and reports every even vaguely inflammatory post I make to the "teacher," I don't need everyone else joining in thanks.

I was 'wrong' because I was factually correct and your were entirely incorrect, or I was wrong to have the nerve to point out your mistake (which was only funny because you were actually trying to nitpick).

Edit: I need to ask, do you really interpret my correcting your 'correction' as an attack? Seriously? Wow.

It reminds me of this guy a friend of mine works with. He works IT at a university. He is a bit of a joke to his co-workers because he always used to try show how smart he was by trying to find ways to make the others, including the profs look dumb, but he just seems angry. It's sad, because he has been in this same job for 21 years, he still takes the bus to work, his house is in rough shape, his peers are 1st and 2nd year students. He doesn't really rate as an intellectual, but he wants to come off as one. The problem people have with him, is that he is so often wrong when he tries to correct others to show his intellect and he only comes off as bitter and small. Some people pity him a little, me included. I don't work with him, but I know his mother is very elderly and his father is gone. He takes the bus because he just never bothered to get his license. If people knew him better, they might not talk about him or make fun of him. But, he continues to belittle others and he can never, ever admit to being wrong.

Just a unrelated story that we might all learn from.

Edit2:
One thing you should know about tonton and me...we have both been here a very long time. We pretty much never agree and in the past used to get into some of the heated conversations here. But, we both know when lines are crossed. Actually, you have done me a favour. I think this is probably the first time in a decade that tonton has been on my side of a conversation. It is an interesting experience.

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply
post #16 of 26
Alright folks. We're done discussing the semantics of kindling. Get back to the topic.
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post #17 of 26
I don't understand why so many threads get derailed over word usage. It's not difficult. Keep needling each other like that, I'm going to be making arbitrary decisions that no one is going to like.

MacOS Dictionary, which my US copy uses New Oxford American Dictionary:

flammable |ˈflaməbəl|
adjective
easily set on fire : the use of highly flammable materials.

If you're not using the American dialect, then that's understandable, but then, we need to put these dialect differences in the open because this is an international community.

Random House Dictionary says this usage has been around since the early 1800's. Hardly "new" unless your interests predate that.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I suspect he confused flammable/inflammable with flammatory/inflammatory.

Wow! I have been around physicians and biomedical people for many years, but I do not recall ever hearing "flammatory", while inlfammation and inflammatory were more commonly used.

Googling (which is a more recent accepted word) flammatory does not yield any actual definition in an online dictionary, although, it appears to be used in medical lexicon, at least. I am not clear yet though what it means:

Non-flammatory, I assume to be opposite of inflammatory is used also.

CGC
post #19 of 26
I said we were done derailing the thread and I meant it.

Seriously guys.

A) grow up. This is an Internet forum, not a debate at the UN.

and

B) Be polite to one another. I don't care what your preference for computer platform or soft drink is. If you're getting that visceral about it, take 15 and go get some sunshine. I'm on my deck right now enjoying a cold beverage and soaking up some sun. If you blood pressure is elevated when you're posting you're doing it wrong.
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post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamw View Post

I said we were done derailing the thread and I meant it.

Seriously guys.

A) grow up. This is an Internet forum, not a debate at the UN.

and

B) Be polite to one another. I don't care what your preference for computer platform or soft drink is. If you're getting that visceral about it, take 15 and go get some sunshine. I'm on my deck right now enjoying a cold beverage and soaking up some sun. If you blood pressure is elevated when you're posting you're doing it wrong.

What's with the "soft drink" reference? Are you saying the Mr. Pibb isn't a "real" soft drink? WELL ARE YOU?
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post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

You are the single polite responder so I picked you to respond to.

Sorry "Tulkas" and "tonton" I've decided to follow Tulkas' example and report all forum violations from now on so consider yourself reported.

The problem here is that it isn't a word to me because I'm an English person born in England and use English (as defined by the Oxford dictionary) as my guide. It's the only official guide to English there is (sorry Webster's users). My copy of Oxfords says precisely what I am saying.

So after admitting I forgot about the newer American uses ("Flammable" actually hasn't been in use that long of a time, I'm not *that* old), I am still getting beat up here. No one has anything more constructive to do I guess?

Facts is facts, and I don't want to be rude, but whether it's used in the USA or in Webster's has not much to do with official "English." We (the English) did actually think up the language first after all.

I would also like to repeat for those that didn't get it, that the original poster seemed to be referring to language confusion between pairs of words of this type. For many many years one of the classic examples of this (which the poster deliberately referred to), is the whole flammable /inflammable/nonflammable/noninflammable thing which I think we can all agree is a source of confusion for many and has been for a long time. The flammable/noninflammable example was the standard example of this kind of prefix confusion used in classroom for decades. This is in fact the very reason the change was made in the USA; because lot's of people didn't understand the original.

So regardless of anything else, what I originally commented was actually rather spot on and completely appropriate and accurate. I don't understand why everyone is taking this so personal and using it as an opportunity to criticise me personally.

"Flammable" was a word long before "internet" was a word. And they are both words. Whether they are as old as you is not relevant. They are both words. You said "flammable" was not. You were wrong. Then you ridiculed Tulkas for pointing out that you were wrong. If anyone in this thread is out of line, it is you.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

You are the single polite responder so I picked you to respond to.

Sorry "Tulkas" and "tonton" I've decided to follow Tulkas' example and report all forum violations from now on so consider yourself reported.

I can't find a single report that Tulkas has made, I don't know what you're talking about. It would be nice if you didn't report every single post that you don't like, it was getting annoying. I also noticed that you reported one of your own posts.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I can't find a single report that Tulkas has made, I don't know what you're talking about. It would be nice if you didn't report every single post that you don't like, it was getting annoying. I also noticed that you reported one of your own posts.

Well, who hasn't felt that he should report one of his own posts? But then most of us notice the edit button.
post #24 of 26
"The glorious thing about the English language is that you can not only argue in it, you can argue about it."

Who said that?
Please don't be insane.
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post #25 of 26
[English professor mode]

I'm sure this came up already, but "flammable" is a recent coinage and emerges really from confusion over whether "inflammable" means "not flammable." As Strunk and White put it in the "frequently misused words and expressions," it's an "oddity" and is used chiefly for the protection of "children and illiterates."

Anyway. Here's what the OED says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The OED

FLAMMABLE = INFLAMMABLE. Revived in modern use: cf.prec.

1813 BUSBY tr. Lucretius I. 731 That igneous seeds, no longer linked To matter flammable, become extinct. 1867 Morning Star 12 Apr., Their houses are built of much less flammable materials than ours. 1959 Gloss. Packaging Terms (B.S.I.) 10 In order to avoid any possible ambiguity, it is the Institution's policy to encourage the use of the terms ‘flammable’ and ‘non-flammable’ rather than ‘inflammable’ and ‘non-inflammable’. 1970 Which? May 136/2 The plastic linings provided for the kitchen areas..will do little to stop your tent catching fire, because they also are highly flammable.

Here's what the OED says about "inflammable":

Quote:
Originally Posted by The OED

A. adj.

1. Capable of being inflamed or set on fire; susceptible of combustion; easily set on fire. Cf. FLAMMABLE a.
inflammable air (light i. a.), a name formerly given to hydrogen gas; heavy inflammable air, carburetted hydrogen or fire-damp.
1605 TIMME Quersit. I. xiii. 54 The sulphurous substance and inflamable matter. 1646 SIR T. BROWNE Pseud. Ep. II. v. 87 Brimstone is a Minerall body of fat and inflamable parts. 1673-4 GREW Veget. Trunks iv. §4 A volatile and inflammable Spirit. 1674 PETTY Disc. Dupl. Proportion 93 In what proportions several Liquors contein more or less of inflameable or ardent parts. 1736 Phil. Trans. Abr. VIII. 77 (heading) Experiments on Inflammable Air. 1779 Inflammable gas [see GAS n.1 2]. 1789 AUSTIN in Phil. Trans. LXXX. 54, I therefore attempted to decompose the heavy inflammable air by means of sulphur, which readily unites with the light inflammable air in a condensed state, and with it forms hepatic air. 1791 [see HYDROGEN]. 1871 ROSCOE Chem. 322 Alcohol is very inflammable. 1878 HUXLEY Physiogr. 103 This is the gas which was formerly known as inflammable air, and is now called hydrogen. 1962 MUIR & BARCLAY Burns & their Treatm. Foreword, It is unfortunate that children and the elderly should bear the brunt of our apparent unwillingness to..elaborate methods of rendering clothing less inflammable. 1968 Which? Mar. 92 Recently..the Toilet Preparations Federation recommended to their members that inflammable hair preparations should carry a warning. 1968 E. GALE From Fibres to Fabrics xiv. 151 To render fabrics non-inflammable, they may be treated with mineral salts. 1972 Sci. Amer. Mar. 54/3 If a resulting spark has enough energy inflammables are ignited and explosions are set off.

As you can see, "inflammable" is a much older word and flammable is a kind of corruption of it. The problem, which is the point of this thread, is that the corruption has become completely interchangeable (in fact, probably, more common) with the original.

Now, you can go quoting dictionaries at one another all day long, but you're generally (from what I've seen) quoting descriptive dictionaries—the kind you have around the house of on your computer. These dictionaries attempt to describe the current usage of a word, and that's pretty much it. They don't lock down meaning or usage. They just describe how the word works at this particular point in time.

The OED, by contrast, is an historical dictionary. It tells you how old words and phrases are, provides examples of their usage, and shows you when meanings change over time (e.g. "gay"). When arguing about something like this, the OED is much more helpful.

At any rate, "flammable" is as wrong as "Jesus'" (as opposed to "Jesus's." But the problem is that the error or corruption of the original has effectively replaced or become interchangeable with the original.

So. Is it incorrect? Sort of. Does it matter? Not really.

[/English professor mode]
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post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I suspect he confused flammable/inflammable with flammatory/inflammatory.

I suspect this thread is dumb.
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