One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A thing that is readily ignited.‘dry winds and no rain have turned parts of the state into a tinderbox’figurative ‘food riots were a potential tinderbox in the city’
- ‘Even so, an ongoing drought and millions of acres of dead, bark beetle infected trees have turned much of the west into a potential tinderbox.’
- ‘And, a three-year drought has turned forests and swamps to tinderboxes.’
- ‘Everyone knew the stand was a bit of a tinderbox, but none actually thought it would go up.’
- ‘In hot, dry summers every tree is a potential tinderbox.’
- ‘While many experts agree that the national forests have become tinderboxes, there is strong disagreement even within the U.S. Forest Service on how to handle the issue.’
2historical A box containing tinder, flint, a steel, and other items for kindling fires.
- ‘I flicked open the tinderbox, struggled with the flint several times before getting a light, and held it up with a shaking hand.’
- ‘She slipped her feet into her shoes then threw on a clean dress, not bothering to tie half of the laces, and around her waist she put on the old belt that had her pouch with the tinderbox in it.’
- ‘Iron and flint I had in my brass tinderbox, and I knelt down by the rocky ledge and began to gather bits of bark.’
- ‘Nearby Silas's cottage, they find a tinderbox, which makes a townsman recall that a peddler who'd come to town recently carried a tinderbox.’
- ‘He placed three logs in it then took out a tinderbox.’
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