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[fur-nis] /ˈfɜr nɪs/
a structure or apparatus in which heat may be generated, as for heating houses, smelting ores, or producing steam.
a place characterized by intense heat:
The volcano was a seething furnace.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Fornax.
verb (used with object), furnaced, furnacing.
to heat (a metal piece) in a furnace.
Origin of furnace
1175-1225; Middle English furneis, furnais < Old French fornais, fournais < Latin fornāc- (stem of fornāx kiln, oven), akin to formus warm
Related forms
furnacelike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for furnace
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It came from the furnace of the Revolution, tempered to the necessities of the times.

  • I should have thought this weather and the bank behind it furnace enough, mother!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Yet I hold that the true art of my craft lies as much in the furnace as in the brush.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • All around and above the furnace, there was total obscurity.

    Sketches from Memory Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • When one drove it was through an air like the breath from the open mouth of a furnace.

  • Four hours passed, during which he watched; and then the furnace was opened.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • The garden palings were pulled up and cast into the furnace.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
British Dictionary definitions for furnace


an enclosed chamber in which heat is produced to generate steam, destroy refuse, smelt or refine ores, etc
a very hot or stifling place
Derived Forms
furnace-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French fornais, from Latin fornax oven, furnace; related to Latin formus warm
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for furnace

early 13c., from Old French fornaise "oven, furnace" (12c.), from Latin fornacem (nominative fornax) "an oven, kiln," related to fornus, furnus "oven," and to formus "warm," from PIE root *ghwer- "warm" (cf. Greek thermos, Old English wearm; see warm (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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