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tinderbox

[tin-der-boks] /ˈtɪn dərˌbɒks/
noun
1.
a box for holding tinder, usually fitted with a flint and steel.
2.
a person or thing that is highly excitable, explosive, inflammable, etc.; a potential source of widespread violence:
Berlin was the tinderbox of Europe.
Origin
1520-1530
1520-30; tinder + box1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for tinderbox
  • That's dried out the region, making it a tinderbox for fires.
  • Summertime means hot and dry conditions which by fall can transform the prairie into a tinderbox ripe for consumption by fire.
British Dictionary definitions for tinderbox

tinderbox

/ˈtɪndəˌbɒks/
noun
1.
a box used formerly for holding tinder, esp one fitted with a flint and steel
2.
a person or thing that is particularly touchy or explosive
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 tinderbox
n.

"box in which tinder and flint are kept," 1520s, from tinder + box (n.); figurative sense of " 'inflammable' person or thing" is attested from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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