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Word of the Day
Thursday, June 08, 2017

Definitions for conflagration

  1. a destructive fire, usually an extensive one.

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Citations for conflagration
The fire department turned out promptly, but found that the mains were frozen and the little water they could pump from nearby wells was useless against a conflagration fanned by a terrific wind. Paul L. Anderson, "Blizzard Hounds," Boys' Life, February 1923
The conflagration spared four--two cats; the household cook, Mrs. Trame; and Chef Laliberte, who had been hired for the dinner. Annie Proulx, Barkskins, 2016
Origin of conflagration
1545-1555
The con- in conflagration is an intensive prefix and does not mean “with,” which would be meaningless here. The noun flagration is obsolete in English, and the verb conflagrate is uncommon. The Latin verb flagrāre and its compound conflagrāre derive from the Latin root flag- “to burn,” the same root as the noun flamma “a flame” (from an unrecorded flagma). Flag- is the Latin development of a complicated Proto-Indo-European root bheleg- (some of its variants are bhelg- bhleg-) “to shine, flash.” Bhleg- is the root forming the Greek verbs phlégein and phlegéthein “to burn, scorch,” whose derivatives include phlégma “inflammation, morbid humor from an excess of heat, phlegm” and Phlegéthōn “the Flaming,” one of the rivers that surrounded Hades and flowed with fire. Conflagration entered English in the mid-16th century.