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See more synonyms for kindling on Thesaurus.com
  1. material that can be readily ignited, used in starting a fire.
  2. the act of one who kindles.
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Origin of kindling

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at kindle1, -ing1
Related formsun·kin·dling, adjective


verb (used with object), kin·dled, kin·dling.
  1. to start (a fire); cause (a flame, blaze, etc.) to begin burning.
  2. to set fire to or ignite (fuel or any combustible matter).
  3. to excite; stir up or set going; animate; rouse; inflame: He kindled their hopes of victory.
  4. to light up, illuminate, or make bright: Happiness kindled her eyes.
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verb (used without object), kin·dled, kin·dling.
  1. to begin to burn, as combustible matter, a light, fire, or flame.
  2. to become aroused or animated.
  3. to become lighted up, bright, or glowing, as the sky at dawn or the eyes with ardor.
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Origin of kindle1

1150–1200; Middle English kindlen < Old Norse kynda; compare Old Norse kindill torch, candle
Related formskin·dler, noun


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Synonym study

1–3. Kindle, ignite, inflame literally mean to set something on fire. To kindle is to cause something gradually to begin burning; it is often used figuratively: to kindle logs; to kindle someone's interest. To ignite is to set something on fire with a sudden burst of flame; it too is often used figuratively: to ignite straw; to ignite dangerous hatreds. Inflame is most often used figuratively, meaning to intensify, excite, or rouse: to inflame passions.


verb (used with object), kin·dled, kin·dling.
  1. (of animals, especially rabbits) to bear (young); produce (offspring).
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verb (used without object), kin·dled, kin·dling.
  1. (of animals, especially rabbits) to give birth, as to a litter.
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  1. a litter of kittens, rabbits, etc.
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Origin of kindle2

1175–1225; Middle English kindelen, v. use of kindel offspring, young, equivalent to kind- (Old English gecynd offspring; see kind2) + -el -le
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for kindling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She was at the stove, where an armful of kindling had been set off to take the chill out of the house.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • He rushed for the kindling, picking out a swimming raisin as he ran.

  • The kindling of the fire seems to have been for the purpose of annoying the enemy.

    Y Gododin


  • I won't complain no more and I will split the kindling and everything.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • And see how the evening sun is kindling the white peaks to purple and gold.

    The Great Hunger

    Johan Bojer

British Dictionary definitions for kindling


  1. material for starting a fire, such as dry wood, straw, etc
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  1. to set alight or start to burn
  2. to arouse or be arousedthe project kindled his interest
  3. to make or become bright
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Derived Formskindler, noun

Word Origin

C12: from Old Norse kynda, influenced by Old Norse kyndill candle


  1. trademark a portable electronic device for downloading and reading books
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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 kindling


"material for lighting fire," 1510s, from present participle of kindle (v.). Earlier "a setting alight" (c.1300).

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c.1200, cundel, "to set fire to, to start on fire," probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse kynda "to kindle, to light a fire," Swedish quindla "kindle," of uncertain origin, + frequentative suffix -le. Figurative use from c.1300. Intransitive sense "to begin to burn, to catch fire" is from c.1400. Related: Kindled; kindling.

Influenced in form, and sometimes in Middle English in sense, with kindel "to give birth" (of animals), "bring forth, produce" (c.1200), from kindel (n.) "offspring of an animal, young one," from Old English gecynd (see kind (n.)) + -el.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper