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spontaneous combustion

the ignition of a substance or body from the rapid oxidation of its own constituents without heat from any external source.
Origin of spontaneous combustion
First recorded in 1800-10 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spontaneous combustion
Historical Examples
  • It was the finest case of spontaneous combustion physician had ever seen.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • It would be too much to ask any one to believe that this was spontaneous combustion, also!

    The Destroyer Burton Egbert Stevenson
  • I didn't wait to be fired—I went off—spontaneous combustion.

    Jane Journeys On Ruth Comfort Mitchell
  • The spontaneous combustion of hay has been known to set barns on fire.

  • The second that it was not a case of spontaneous combustion.

    Historic Oddities Sabine Baring-Gould
  • But no well-authenticated case of spontaneous combustion is known.

    Historic Oddities Sabine Baring-Gould
  • Why should spontaneous combustion occur in the case of the drunkard?

    The Reason Why Anonymous
  • The combustion of thought must appear to be a spontaneous combustion.

    Romantic Spain John Augustus O'Shea
  • Fires are the results of accidents, of spontaneous combustion, and of design.

  • It will be produced not by Edward Royce but by spontaneous combustion.

    Pieces of Hate Heywood Broun
British Dictionary definitions for spontaneous combustion

spontaneous combustion

the ignition of a substance or body as a result of internal oxidation processes, without the application of an external source of heat, occurring in finely powdered ores, coal, straw, etc
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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spontaneous combustion in Science
spontaneous combustion  
The bursting into flame of a mass of material as a result of chemical reactions within the substance, without the addition of heat from an external source. Oily rags and damp hay, for example, are subject to spontaneous combustion.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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spontaneous combustion in Culture

spontaneous combustion definition

A process by which a collection of materials (such as oily rags) catches fire without the application of heat from outside. The oxidation of substances in the materials starts the fire.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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