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spontaneous combustion

noun
1.
the ignition of a substance or body from the rapid oxidation of its own constituents without heat from any external source.
Origin of spontaneous combustion
1800-1810
1800-10
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for spontaneous combustion
Historical Examples
  • The supposition that she had died of spontaneous combustion was also entertained by a good many.

    Historic Oddities Sabine Baring-Gould
  • It was the finest case of spontaneous combustion physician had ever seen.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • At last, under unendurable conditions, spontaneous combustion has followed.

  • It would be too much to ask any one to believe that this was spontaneous combustion, also!

    The Destroyer Burton Egbert Stevenson
  • At first a mild heat; then a dull red glow of spontaneous combustion progresses—and presently flame and smoke.

    Kindred of the Dust Peter B. Kyne
  • I didn't wait to be fired—I went off—spontaneous combustion.

    Jane Journeys On Ruth Comfort Mitchell
  • spontaneous combustion is the burning of a substance or body by the internal development of heat without the application of fire.

  • Why should spontaneous combustion occur in the case of the drunkard?

    The Reason Why Anonymous
  • But no well-authenticated case of spontaneous combustion is known.

    Historic Oddities Sabine Baring-Gould
  • It was supposed that the fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of some coals stowed in the after-cock-pit.

British Dictionary definitions for spontaneous combustion

spontaneous combustion

noun
1.
the ignition of a substance or body as a result of internal oxidation processes, without the application of an external source of heat, occurring in finely powdered ores, coal, straw, etc
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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spontaneous combustion in Science
spontaneous combustion  
The bursting into flame of a mass of material as a result of chemical reactions within the substance, without the addition of heat from an external source. Oily rags and damp hay, for example, are subject to spontaneous combustion.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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spontaneous combustion in Culture

spontaneous combustion definition


A process by which a collection of materials (such as oily rags) catches fire without the application of heat from outside. The oxidation of substances in the materials starts the fire.

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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Difficulty index for spontaneous combustion

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for spontaneous

13
17
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