Definition of incendiary in English:



  • 1(of a device or attack) designed to cause fires.

    ‘incendiary grenades’
    • ‘He showed youngsters an incendiary bomb found on a golf course in Eltham.’
    • ‘In addition, it is believed they possess crude electronic devices capable of triggering incendiary bombs.’
    • ‘The incendiary devices were found by construction workers who notified the Auburn Police Department.’
    • ‘In the High Street two huge concrete water tanks were erected to provide emergency supplies to fight fires if any incendiary devices were dropped.’
    • ‘According to sources, dissident groups are now at work planning to plant bombs or detonate incendiary devices, according to leaked information.’
    • ‘A plastic jug rigged as an incendiary device is later found on the roof.’
    • ‘The plane dropped a total of 608,000 tons of high explosive bombs and more than 51 million incendiary bombs.’
    • ‘One of the incendiary devices had a blue colored latex glove as a wick.’
    • ‘In fact, there may be as many as 12 incendiary devices in your fridge.’
    • ‘They were arrested after police discovered incendiary devices in their car.’
    • ‘This was mixed in various proportions to produce fuel for American and British flame-throwers and to fill some incendiary bombs.’
    • ‘Equally important was the ‘air defence oath’ which urged citizens to stand their ground in the face of incendiary or high explosive bombs.’
    • ‘In 1943, the Neumann factory in central Berlin was struck by incendiary bombs.’
    • ‘In the latter part of 1993 and in the first months of 1994 its violence was directed almost exclusively against the security forces, and incendiary devices replaced car bombs in attacks on economic targets.’
    • ‘These grenades were both fragmentary and incendiary devices designed to cause either death or serious battlefield injuries.’
    • ‘Krakow and several other cities were attacked at the same time with incendiary bombs.’
    • ‘On June 10, 1991, the University's mink farm was set on fire after a timed incendiary device was detonated.’
    • ‘He chooses two minor potions, three incendiary grenades, and two smoke grenades.’
    • ‘In the Underground they were safe from the high explosive and incendiary bombs that rained down on London night after night.’
    • ‘The fire had been started with a makeshift incendiary device but caused only limited damage.’
    combustible, flammable, inflammable, fire-producing, fire-raising
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    1. 1.1Tending to stir up conflict.
      ‘incendiary rhetoric’
      ‘an incendiary slogan’
      • ‘During that year the rhetoric on both sides reached the incendiary stage.’
      • ‘These issues are being played out in Britain because it has become the focus of this incendiary global conflict.’
      • ‘Here, in order from least to most effective, is a look at how some people are using incendiary rhetoric, creative accounting and contract law to dodge the Revenue Canada taxman.’
      • ‘Despite Daniels's incendiary rhetoric about gays, when asked by CNN's Paula Zahn if he was homophobic, he said no.’
      • ‘Websites and satellite television channels then supply visual images and incendiary rhetoric from any place where they are fighting.’
      • ‘In the process, his incendiary rhetoric has alienated much of the middle and upper class, who accuse him of being authoritarian.’
      • ‘Prowling the stage like a drunken panther, his tales of emotional torture may have grown tiresome, but his incendiary political material proved a rip-roaring success.’
      • ‘Nair once described her approach to filmmaking in incendiary terms: ‘My job is to provoke’.’
      • ‘Forty years ago this month a young man, aged just 21, climbed on top of a car in Berkeley California and let fly with a stream of incendiary rhetoric.’
      • ‘His incendiary rhetoric will be depressingly familiar to the CalMac ferry staff awaiting a resolution to their own increasingly acrimonious pay dispute.’
      • ‘But later in life, he rejected the incendiary rhetoric of his youth.’
      • ‘Chris Rock's evolution from underachieving Saturday Night Live also-ran to incendiary social commentator is the stuff of comedy legend.’
      • ‘As soon as these experiences become amalgamated with the problems the migrants left behind them in their homeland, it provokes an incendiary situation, possibly even a revolutionary movement.’
      • ‘The aforementioned and heavy-handed passage aside, Hecht's film should be commended for its treatment of potentially incendiary elements.’
      • ‘No position could have been more incendiary or divisive in the years leading up to the Civil War.’
      • ‘This incendiary rhetoric, Chege believes, helped fuel the Rwandan civil war of 1994 in which 850,000 Tutsi died.’
      • ‘Such incendiary language, bordering on incitement to mutiny, has become almost routine in Republican quarters.’
      • ‘So why would anyone let such a potentially incendiary rally go ahead?’
      • ‘Those demonstrating, including young children, carried placards saying ‘Don't house them, kill them’ and other incendiary slogans.’
      inflammatory, rabble-rousing, provocative, seditious, subversive, revolutionary, insurrectionary, insurrectionist
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    2. 1.2Very exciting.
      ‘an incendiary live performer’
      • ‘Their melancholic pop-noir is far too great and universally personal ever be kept locked inside student audiophiles stereos; their incendiary live show too ardent to ever be kept secret.’
      • ‘Galvanising the band's performance in to an incendiary party each time, it is she who makes them the hottest ticket on the live circuit at the moment.’
      • ‘Muse certainly give their fans exactly what they want so as a live prospect, they are loud, explosive, incendiary and exciting.’
      • ‘Developing musical themes from deep atmospheric to incendiary structures, Supersilent capture here the intensity of their live performances.’
      • ‘Instead these are the tunes which best capture a group who blended vaudeville, punk and Marvel comics, including the live version of the title track - as close as you can get to their incendiary stage performance.’
      • ‘Avante-noise sextet The Birds of Paradise are another act whose incendiary live show precedes them.’
      • ‘Minakakis' passionate, incendiary delivery provided tangible pathos to the band's awe-inspiring but detached musicianship.’
      • ‘For 13 years, they have continually proven to be one of the most exciting and innovative bands in rock roll, with an uncompromising torrent of groundbreaking records and incendiary live shows.’
      • ‘De Niro delivers an incendiary performance as Johnny Boy, in the process supplanting Keitel as Scorcese's ideal on-screen alter ego.’
      • ‘Their incendiary performance culminated in the title track and primed the audience for the havoc yet to be wreaked.’
      • ‘Cash's incendiary performance - and the prisoners' reaction - retains all its power.’
      • ‘Robert De Niro gives an incendiary performance as Johnny Boy, a young rascal with mounting debts and no intention whatsoever of paying them off.’
      • ‘Cowpunk pioneers, they combined the thrashy energy of punk with Hank Williams songs and their incendiary live shows left a trail of torched venues in their wake.’
      • ‘The result is a heavyweight movie which leaves you feeling punch-drunk throughout, an adrenaline ride fuelled by some incendiary performances.’
      • ‘They are the best songs in Manchester and the best, most incendiary rock and roll.’
      • ‘In fact, one comes close to burning down the premises with his incendiary performance.’
      • ‘The band will tour before retiring at the end of this year after 10 years performing incendiary live shows across Europe to hundreds of thousands of fans - old & young.’


  • 1An incendiary bomb or device.

    • ‘That night airships dropped high explosive bombs and incendiaries on Bradley, Tipton, Wednesbury and Walsall.’
    • ‘These high explosions and incendiaries are like the falling stars and blazing comets - noted of old as foretelling great changes in the affairs of man.’
    • ‘I was about seven at the time and, along with my mother and a number of neighbours, I spent the night in an Air Raid shelter, while the Luftwaffe were raining bombs and incendiaries on London.’
    • ‘This morning, 4 am New York time, a small incendiary went off in a concrete flowerpot outside the British Consulate.’
    • ‘That night saw a climax of air attacks by over three hundred Luftwaffe bombers dropping incendiaries and heavy explosives on London, igniting churches and public buildings.’
    • ‘They include incendiaries, poison gases, herbicides and other types of chemical substances that can kill, maim or temporarily incapacitate.’
    • ‘Alexander led the King of Reftya into the main junction tunnel, just as an incendiary sounded above the ground.’
    • ‘Britain used mustard gas and white phosphorus incendiaries in the First World War, along with Germany and France.’
    • ‘In the space of ten days, the Americans had dropped nearly 9,500 tons of incendiaries on Japanese cities and destroyed 29 square miles of what was considered to be important industrial land.’
    • ‘This will include using the various stake holders and using incendiaries from aircraft, and existing roads and tracks to break up the country at a bigger scale.’
    • ‘The incendiaries rained down with a terrific clatter as they ricocheted off roof-tops and buildings, spitting fire as they came to rest.’
    • ‘The citizens, who toiled ceaselessly on the fortifications, suffered a fierce bombardment of grenades and incendiaries, before a relief army under the Earl of Essex finally arrived from London.’
    • ‘There were no explosives or incendiaries within the rods; the sheer kinetic force of the rod falling and hitting the target had the explosive effect of an atom bomb.’
    • ‘‘You went up on high roofs with bombs and incendiaries falling all around you,’ he recalls.’
    • ‘These difficulties aside, there is value in gathering the many examples of ancient uses of poisons, germs, and incendiaries into a single study.’
    • ‘"You went up on high roofs with bombs and incendiaries falling all around you, " he recalls.’
    • ‘The British found that night bombing and incendiaries greatly increased their coercive power.’
    • ‘Included were artillery shells, phosphorous flares, mortars, incendiaries and cluster bombs.’
    • ‘After they came ashore, they removed their naval uniforms and buried them along with a supply of explosives and incendiaries.’
    • ‘The United States restricted the use of incendiaries like white phosphorus after Vietnam, and in 1983, an international convention banned its use against civilians.’
    explosive, bomb, incendiary device
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    1. 1.1A person who starts fires, especially in a military context.
      • ‘In his painstaking The Reichstag Fire: Legend and Truth, Fritz Tobias concluded that the fire was the work of a lone incendiary, Marinus van der Lubbe.’
      • ‘The torch and the man's wild hair and dynamic pose imply a revolutionary or an incendiary, rather than someone who extinguishes fires.’
      • ‘This was something the Anglo-Saxons seem to have understood, as their legislation focused on malicious destruction of single trees by incendiaries, not willful setting of forest fires.’
      • ‘All about there menace the plots of the revolutionary, the stones of the mob, the dagger of the assassin, the torch of the incendiary.’
      • ‘Reports arrived to say incendiaries had set fire to the top of the telephone exchange and once again stirrup pumps and buckets of water were rushed upstairs where the ceiling above the equipment was burning steadily.’
      arsonist, fire-bomber, firesetter
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    2. 1.2A person who stirs up conflict.
      • ‘After the Boston Tea Party, Franklin was brought before the Privy Council, and denounced by Wedderburn, the solicitor-general, as a mischievous incendiary and a man no one could trust.’
      • ‘He claimed that ‘She was an incendiary who has given unyielding support to violence’.’
      • ‘More than a great incendiary, Don is a revolutionary thinker.’
      • ‘What would have seemed like raw meat for columnists, satirists, incendiaries and the like has fallen between the cracks of ennui and indifference.’
      agitator, demagogue, rabble-rouser, firebrand, troublemaker, revolutionary, revolutionist, insurgent, subversive, instigator, inciter, soapbox orator
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Late Middle English: from Latin incendiarius, from incendium conflagration from incendere set fire to.