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June 27, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: Merriam-Webster definition

DefMac Davis wonders why the Merriam-Webster's entry for "deflagrate" begins with "to cause to deflagrate".

Mac adds helpfully, "Simply put, deflagrating reactions are chemical reactions between very finely divided fuel and oxidizer particles that explode with sub-sonic velocities."


First Post!

that is defitanlly broken

Posted by: dont start the "this isnt broken" at June 27, 2005 12:25 AM

Er... because that's the definition when it is used in an transitive sense, and transitive senses are always listed first in Merriam-Webster? The definition makes use of the intransitive sense, which immediately follows.

Posted by: Lionfire at June 27, 2005 01:43 AM

I'm not seeing whats wrong with the defenition, 'to burn rapidly..." where is "to cause to deflagrate" in that pic anyhow.

Posted by: Vic at June 27, 2005 01:58 AM

I don't see "to deflagrate" either perhaps it was fixed?

Also mix-ups in dictionaries are not uncommon they are put their intentionally by the publisher in order to prove if another publisher has infringed on their copyright.

Posted by: Kent at June 27, 2005 03:29 AM

That's not the definition...

You're looking at the wrong line.

Posted by: Kent at June 27, 2005 06:50 AM

No, Kent, "to cause to deflagrate" is the definition of the transitive sense, as Lionfire pointed out. And it's not technically wrong. But I notice that on's definition for "detonate", they put the intransitive sense first, which makes a little more sense when you're reading through -- I'm surprised they didn't do the same thing here.

(Incidentally, "deflagrate" is a terrific word, I'm going to have to find some way to use it today!)

Posted by: E.T. at June 27, 2005 09:09 AM

'Defenestrate' is kewler. It means to throw something (or somebody) out of a window.

Stop playing that loud music or I'll defenestrate your boom box!

Posted by: Bob at June 27, 2005 09:25 AM

lol, thats funny

Posted by: glatzer at June 27, 2005 09:57 AM

Not if I defenestrate you first!

Anyway, I was always taught that no matter what the tense, the definition of a word should NOT contain that word. That was 8th grade Language Arts. These guys are pros. They should know better.

Posted by: a_cheesepuff at June 27, 2005 09:59 AM

If you write the m-w people, they are very nice. I got a nice note back when I complained about not being able to look up words with cedillas. ( I think it said it couldn't find it, then gave you the same word back as the suggestion. Talk about broken!)

Posted by: Scott at June 27, 2005 02:59 PM

Not broken.

Causing something to burn is not the same as something burning. It would have been better if the intransitive were first, though.

Posted by: Fuzzy at June 29, 2005 10:24 PM

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