Word of the Day: tinder

 
 
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Word Reference
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Word of the Day
 
December 1, 2015
 
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tinder (noun) sound LISTEN icon
 
 
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You've probably heard about the dating app Tinder, but do you know what the word means? Tinder is any material that burns easily, like dry wood or paper, that is used to start a fire. Tinder also has a figurative sense and refers to something used to initiate a reaction.
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Example sentences
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In ancient times, people carried tinder with them to start fires.
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You need some tinder to start the fire.
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Losing her job at the supermarket was the tinder Ana needed to go back to school and become a nurse.
 
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Multi-word forms
 

tinderbox (noun): a box that holds tinder and, figuratively, a person or a thing that is likely to explode and become violent

tinder-dry (adjective): very flammable

 
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Did you know?
 
Tinder and kindling are both materials used to start a fire, but kindling is small pieces of wood or twigs used to feed the initial flame until the fire is big enough to put larger logs on. Tinder is very dry, very flammable material that can be lit with just a spark. This was very important before people had matches. Of course, these days, spark is often used figuratively to describe an attraction between two people, which is probably why the dating app chose the name Tinder.
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Other forms
 
tindery (adjective): this word was more typical in the past and is used very little today
 
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Origin
 
Tinder dates from before 900 and comes from the Old English word tynder. It is similar to the German word Zunder, the Old Norse word tundr, and the Old English -tendan (used in ātendan, meaning 'to set on fire').
 
 
See full definition
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