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flash point

or flash·point

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noun
  1. Also flashing point. Physical Chemistry. the lowest temperature at which a liquid in a specified apparatus will give off sufficient vapor to ignite momentarily on application of a flame.
  2. a critical point or stage at which something or someone suddenly causes or creates some significant action: A 10 percent drop in mortgage rates will produce a flash point in the housing market.
  3. a critical situation or area having the potential of erupting in sudden violence: The Mideast has been the flash point for a series of conflicts.
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Origin of flash point

First recorded in 1875–80
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for flashpoint

flash point

flashing point

noun
  1. the lowest temperature at which the vapour above a liquid can be ignited in air
  2. a critical moment beyond which a situation will inevitably erupt into violencethe political mood has reached flash point
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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

Word Origin and History for flashpoint

n.

also flash point, 1878, from flash (v.) + point (n.). Figurative use by 1955.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

flashpoint in Science

flash point

  1. The lowest temperature at which the vapor of a flammable liquid will ignite in air. The flash point is generally lower than the temperature needed for the liquid itself to ignite.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

flashpoint in Culture

flash point

For a given flammable substance, the lowest temperature at which vapors passing from the substance into the air will catch fire spontaneously if a small flame is present.

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