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  1. a highly flammable material or preparation formerly used for catching the spark from a flint and steel struck together for fire or light.
  2. any dry substance that readily takes fire from a spark.
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Origin of tinder

before 900; Middle English; Old English tynder; akin to German Zunder, Old Norse tundr, Old English -tendan (as in ātendan to set on fire), Gothic tundnan to catch fire, German -zünden in entzünden to kindle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tinder


  1. dry wood or other easily combustible material used for lighting a fire
  2. anything inflammatory or dangeroushis speech was tinder to the demonstrators' unrest
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Derived Formstindery, adjective

Word Origin

Old English tynder; related to Old Norse tundr, Old High German zuntara
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 tinder


"dry, inflammable substance," Old English tynder, related to tendan "to kindle," from Proto-Germanic *tund- "ignite, kindle" (cf. Gothic tandjan, Swedish tända, German zünden).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper