In medical terms, something that is inflammatory causes a local reaction that shows up by swelling, heat, pain, and redness. If you are stung by a bee, you may have an acute inflammatory reaction to the sting.

The noun inflammatory also refers to something that excites anger, violence, rebellion, or similar strong emotions. In this case, the noun usually refers to speech or writing. If you are a politician, inflammatory speeches may be one tool you use to incite your constituents to vote against the corruption of your opponent. After all, a stirring speech about rights people may lose if an election goes a certain way is more likely to get out the vote than a more understated discussion.

Definitions of inflammatory
  1. adjective
    arousing to action or rebellion
    synonyms: incendiary, incitive, instigative, rabble-rousing, seditious
    serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate; stimulating discussion or exciting controversy
  2. adjective
    characterized or caused by inflammation
    “an inflammatory process”
    “an inflammatory response”
    not in or exhibiting good health in body or mind
Commonly confused words

inflammable / inflammatory

Inflammable and inflammatory can be confused with one another, but they also offer their own source of confusion with the prefix in-.

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