The one truly safe off-topic topic - Language

Mark A Mandel mam at theworld.com
Sat Mar 22 11:41:54 PST 2003

On Fri, 21 Mar 2003, Casey Rousseau wrote:

#"Historically, *flammable* and *inflammable* mean the same thing.  However,
#the presence of the prefix in- has misled many people into assuming that
#*inflammable* means 'not flammable' or 'noncombustible.'  In the
#circumstances, it is therfore advisable to use only *flammable* in contexts
#imparting warnings or on product labels, where a misinterpretation might
#have more serious consequences for the reader than an etymological mistake
#would deserve."
#Then again, it seems to me that the editors of the American Heritage have an
#awfully low estimation of the consequences that should be expected from an
#etymological mistake!

Oh, no, no, not the lexicographers. Fire safety officials and insurance
companies. Believe it.

The word "flammable" does, I believe, go back further, but I'm pretty
sure this is fact.

-- Mark M.