Definition of napalm in US English:



  • A highly flammable sticky jelly used in incendiary bombs and flamethrowers, consisting of gasoline thickened with special soaps.

    • ‘It has been alleged in the course of the raids that chemical weapons and napalm bombs were also used.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the prime stocks of precision munitions have been drawn down, and speculation about the future use of cluster bombs and napalm and other vile weapons is being heard.’
    • ‘The white supremacist, who amassed a terrifying stockpile of arms and explosives including home-made napalm and shotguns, has been jailed for 11 years.’
    • ‘The US has already admitted that it used napalm during the siege.’
    • ‘I watched the pilot of the Corsair in front of me drop his napalm bombs.’
    • ‘He concluded that compared to weapons like napalm, ‘these temporarily disabling gases seem more humane than horrible’.’
    • ‘If they got any human readings, they would call in the attack bombers, which would drop napalm, for total destruction.’
    • ‘The French military calmly withdrew long enough to launch an air strike that dropped napalm on the exposed Italian troops.’
    • ‘Hand grenades produce nearly as much flame as a flamethrower, and artillery rounds look like a full blown napalm strike when they go off.’
    • ‘For sixty-two years, the Navy pummeled the island with millions of pounds of bombs, missiles, depleted-uranium bullets, napalm and Agent Orange.’
    • ‘We expended almost two million tons of bombs, rockets, napalm, and so forth against the trail and lost far too many men.’
    • ‘They are using depleted uranium weapons, and may be using napalm.’
    • ‘A major problem with a weapon like napalm, dropped from a great height on those who are thought to be soldiers, is that there is great risk of also killing or maiming civilians.’
    • ‘I remember me and my mates nearly burning my shed down making napalm from petrol and soap when I was about 13 or 14.’
    • ‘Napalm was dropped indiscriminately, and the US seriously debated dropping nuclear weapons on the North.’
    • ‘Napalm was used widely against civilians, and most major cities were obliterated.’
    • ‘These were upsetting photos of effects of people burned by napalm and vegetation devastated by Agent Orange.’
    • ‘Coalition forces have not used napalm - either during operations there, or at any other time.’
    • ‘There are at least two separate reports that the Americans are dropping napalm.’


[with object]
  • Attack with bombs containing napalm.

    • ‘It was brandished by the anti-war movement to point up the discrepancy between our purported war aims and the grisly realities of napalmed villages and dead Vietnamese civilians.’
    • ‘In fact, there are a few, such as the napalming of the crestline at the end of the first mission that will take your breath away.’
    • ‘First let's remember that nobody is perfect and America itself napalmed civilian villages in Vietnam.’
    • ‘We flattened North Korea's dams, factories, and cities, and napalmed its forests.’
    • ‘‘We napalmed both those bridge approaches,’ said the Colonel in a recent interview.’
    • ‘In the foreground, I copied this photo of a girl who'd been napalmed in the Vietnam war.’
    • ‘A friend said ‘Should've napalmed the lot of 'em.’’
    • ‘I think a genuine concern is raised by people concerning the graphic image of that young girl in Viet Nam who had been napalmed and who was nude, as to whether she would be covered.’
    • ‘There's an image from Vietnam by the photographer Ian Davis of a Vietnamese girl running naked after being napalmed.’
    • ‘If we were to take this line of reasoning to its logical extreme, the tragedy at My Lai would have been regarded differently in history had a pair of F - 4 fighter-bombers napalmed the village.’
    • ‘Targets, including towns and villages, are indiscriminately bombed and napalmed.’
    • ‘‘Our Government should napalm whoever was responsible for this,’ said an outraged tourist, who lives six miles from the stricken site.’
    • ‘The police found that the remains found at the 97th Penthouse were napalmed to death.’
    • ‘The defenders had been bombed and napalmed by airplanes, shellacked by artillery and doused with poison gas, and they had no ammunition of their own left to fight back.’
    • ‘Are we going to start napalming the country for him or something?’
    • ‘The general in charge of the napalming, acknowledged that had the United States lost the war he would most probably have been tried as a war criminal.’
    • ‘I heard the marine colonel say: ‘We napalmed those bridges.’’
    • ‘They refused to sign a 1980 UN treaty banning the napalming of civilian targets and are one of the few countries still using such concoctions.’
    • ‘The village was burning because it had been napalmed.’
    • ‘It would go and burn off tracts of native bush - napalm them, actually - so that it could plant pine trees in the name of regional development.’


1940s: from na(phthenic) and palm(itic acid).