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[kuh m-buhs-chuh n] /kəmˈbʌs tʃən/
the act or process of burning.
  1. rapid oxidation accompanied by heat and, usually, light.
  2. chemical combination attended by production of heat and light.
  3. slow oxidation not accompanied by high temperature and light.
violent excitement; tumult.
Origin of combustion
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English (< Middle French) < Late Latin combūstiōn- (stem of combūstiō). See combust, -ion
Related forms
combustive, adjective
noncombustion, noun
noncombustive, adjective
precombustion, noun
self-combustion, noun
uncombustive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for combustion
  • 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 fire it causes may not be as easy to extinguish as a normal combustion fire.
  • 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.
  • Not only does this permit better scavenging, the turbulence also promotes combustion.
  • Most come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production.
  • Because it vaporizes plastic rather than burning it, the process also creates less emissions than conventional combustion.
  • Once ignited, combustion would propel the torpedo to its target, where it might explode.
  • Spontaneous combustion is supposed to have been the cause.
British Dictionary definitions for combustion


the process of burning
any process in which a substance reacts with oxygen to produce a significant rise in temperature and the emission of light
a chemical process in which two compounds, such as sodium and chlorine, react together to produce heat and light
a process in which a compound reacts slowly with oxygen to produce little heat and no light
Derived Forms
combustive, noun, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Old French, from Latin combūrere to burn up, from com- (intensive) + ūrere to burn
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
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Word Origin and History for combustion

early 15c., from Old French combustion (13c.), from Latin combustionem (nominative combustio) "a burning," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin comburere "to burn up, consume," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + *burere, faulty separation of amburere "to burn around," actually ambi-urere, from urere "to burn, singe," from PIE root *eus- "to burn" (see ember).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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combustion in Medicine

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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combustion in Science
  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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combustion in Culture

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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