the act or process of burning.
rapid oxidation accompanied by heat and, usually, light.
chemical combination attended by production of heat and light.
slow oxidation not accompanied by high temperature and light.
violent excitement; tumult.

1400–50; late Middle English (< Middle French) < Late Latin combūstiōn- (stem of combūstiō). See combust, -ion

combustive, adjective
noncombustion, noun
noncombustive, adjective
precombustion, noun
self-combustion, noun
uncombustive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
combustion (kəmˈbʌstʃən)
1.  the process of burning
2.  any process in which a substance reacts with oxygen to produce a significant rise in temperature and the emission of light
3.  a chemical process in which two compounds, such as sodium and chlorine, react together to produce heat and light
4.  a process in which a compound reacts slowly with oxygen to produce little heat and no light
[C15: from Old French, from Latin combūrere to burn up, from com- (intensive) + ūrere to burn]
n, —adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1600 (combustibility is attested from 1471), from O.Fr. combustion, from L. combustionem (nom. combustio), from comburere "to burn," from com- intens. prefix + *burere, faulty sep. of amburere "to burn around," actually ambi-urere, from urere "to burn, singe."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

combustion com·bus·tion (kəm-bŭs'chən)

  1. The process of burning.

  2. A chemical change, especially oxidation, accompanied by the production of heat and light.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
combustion   (kəm-bŭs'chən)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. The process of burning.

  2. A chemical change, especially through the rapid combination of a substance with oxygen, producing heat and, usually, light. See also spontaneous combustion.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

combustion definition

Burning; a chemical reaction that involves the rapid combination of a fuel with oxygen. (See oxidation and spontaneous combustion.)

The American Heritage® 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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Encyclopedia Britannica


rapid chemical reaction between substances that is usually accompanied by generation of heat and light in the form of flame. In most cases, oxygen comprises one of the reactants. Other physical phenomena that sometimes occur during combustion reactions are explosion and detonation.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Combustion and propagation processes are then simulated in order to predict the
  spread of the fire.
Indoor flaws can leak combustion gases, creating a fire and health hazard.
The inner workings of an internal combustion engine have rarely been seen as
  clearly, or as entertainingly.
We smelled the carcinogenic gases released by spontaneous combustion within
  mounds of decaying refuse.
Images for Combustion
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