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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 of tinderbox
1520-1530
1520-30; tinder + box1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tinderbox
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To strike a fire one must have the flint and tinderbox, for matches were unknown until about 1830.

    The Age of Invention Holland Thompson
  • She found the tinderbox, and with trembling hands struck a light.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • Meinik carried a tinderbox, and soon had a fire blazing, and by its side they piled a great stock of wood.

    On the Irrawaddy G. A. Henty
  • I need not be a witch to do that; now get your tinderbox from your bag, and I will arrange the wood.

    The Devil's Pool George Sand
  • A four-wheeler appeared presently, and very soon they were walking down tinderbox Lane.

    Sinister Street, vol. 2 Compton Mackenzie
  • On reaching his chamber he laid his hand on every possible ledge and corner for the tinderbox, but for a long time in vain.

    Wessex Tales Thomas Hardy
  • Klein Piet had his tinderbox in his pocket; by the light he made, they both bent to look at the link on the ground.

  • That he had done so affected him more sharply now with a sense of the appropriateness of this house in tinderbox Lane.

    Sinister Street, vol. 2 Compton Mackenzie
  • Take the flint and tinderbox, creep along the bank, and light a fire at that spot; maybe the smoke will draw them above us.

    The Pathfinder James Fenimore Cooper
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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