1. used or adapted for setting property on fire: incendiary bombs.
  2. of or relating to the criminal setting on fire of property.
  3. tending to arouse strife, sedition, etc.; inflammatory: incendiary speeches.
  4. tending to inflame the senses: an incendiary extravaganza of music and dance.

noun, plural in·cen·di·ar·ies.

  1. a person who deliberately sets fire to buildings or other property, as an arsonist.
  2. Military. a shell, bomb, or grenade containing napalm, thermite, or some other substance that burns with an intense heat.
  3. a person who stirs up strife, sedition, etc.; an agitator.


  1. of or relating to the illegal burning of property, goods, etc
  2. tending to create strife, violence, etc; inflammatory
  3. (of a substance) capable of catching fire, causing fires, or burning readily

noun plural -aries

  1. a person who illegally sets fire to property, goods, etc; arsonist
  2. (esp formerly) a person who stirs up civil strife, violence, etc, for political reasons; agitator
  3. Also called: incendiary bomb a bomb that is designed to start fires
  4. an incendiary substance, such as phosphorus

c.1400 as a noun, “person who sets malicious fires;” mid-15c. as an adjective, “capable of being used to set fires,” from Latin incendiarius “causing a fire,” from incendium “conflagration,” from incendere “set on fire,” figuratively, “incite, rouse, enrage,” from in- “into, in, on, upon” (see in- (2)) + *candere “to set alight, cause to glow,” related to candere “to shine” (see candle). Figurative sense of “enflaming passions” (adj.) is from 1610s. Military use, of bombs, shells, etc., attested from 1871. The obsolete verb incend is attested from c.1500.

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