Flammable vs Inflammable: Is Inflammable antonym of Flammable?

Flammable vs Inflammable vs Non-flammable

Flammable or Inflammable.
Choose the correct word:
Iron is a ............... flammable /inflammable/non-flammable metal.

If you are getting problem choosing the correct word, you should go through the post.




These two words can cause confusion. Both words seem antonym, but they are synonym. The prefix "in" does not always mean "not" as in inaccurate, inefficient. Here the prefix in means into

What is the meaning of flammable?
Flammable is something that can burn easily. Petrol, Diesel, LPG are flammable things.

What is the meaning of inflammable?
Inflammable means the same thing: to burn easily.
According to Collins, An inflammable material or chemical catches fire and burns easily.


Origin of Inflammable and Flammable:
Flammable comes from Latin word flammare from flamma means a flame.
Inflammable origins from in means into and flamma means flame.

Is inflammable antonym of flammable?
No, Inflammable is not an antonym of flammable. They mean almost the same thing, but their usages, in some contexts, can be different.

Then, what is the antonym of flammable?
Antonym of flammable is non-flammable.


 Why do “Flammable” and “Inflammable” mean the same thing?
According to The Cambridge guide to English Usage:
Though these mean exactly the same-"liable to burst into flame"- the first is preferred and to be encouraged wherever public safety is an issue. Apart from being slightly shorter, flammable is never subject to the faint ambiguity which dogs inflammable- as to whether its in- is a negative or intensive prefix. It is of course an intensive prefix, just as it is in the related word inflame. But with the risk of in- being read as a negative in inflammable (and failing to serve as a warning of fire), the spelling flammable is preferred by all those concerned with fire hazards. The US National Fire Protection Association adopted it in the 1920s, and this has boosted its use generally. In contemporary data from CCAE, flammable outnumbers inflammable by almost 20:1, and uses of the latter were mostly figurative, noting inflammable tempers, people and remarks. In other English-speaking countries, the move to replace inflammable on warning sings is relatively recent. It proves somewhat less frequent than flammable in BNC data, yet its meaning in the 50-odd examples is still almost always "liable to burst into flame." The examples do however come from printed documents, whereas those for flammable are more often from spoken sources. The word is presumably still getting around.
In simple words, Inflammable is the first and original word. Flammable came into existence because of prefix "in". In the 1920s, The US National Fire Protection Association adopted the word flammable in place of Inflammable and encouraged people to use the word flammable because they doubted that people might mistakenly thought inflammable meant not flammable. As most people know that the prefix in means not. For the safety issue, they started using the word flammable for the things that burn easily.
From the note above: "In contemporary data from CCAE, flammable outnumbers inflammable by almost 20:1, and used of latter were mostly figurative, noting inflammable temper, people and remarks."

You can see how the word flammable outnumbers inflammable in the google ngram.



What is the difference between inflammable and flammable?
For common usages, there is no difference between them. We can use any one of them for the thing that gets burn easily.

But for chemist, or for your laboratory, yes, there is difference between them. 
Flammable things catch fire, such as a piece of paper, wood, cloth, etc. These things can be set fire to.
Inflammable things, however, burst into flame without the need of any fire or ignition. Liquid chemicals that catch fire easily fall into this category, like petrol, chlorine trifluoride, magnesium, etc.

In a nutshell:
There is no difference between flammable and inflammable. They are synonym.
The antonym for flammable and inflammable is non-flammable.

Answer:
Choose the correct word:
Iron is a ............... flammable /inflammable/non-flammable metal.
Answer: Non-flammable is the right word.

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