Posted by ESC on June 17, 2004
In Reply to: Inflammable as tenor singers posted by R. Berg on June 16, 2004
: : : Hello,
: : : This phrase is from In a German Pension by by Katherine Mansfield.
: : : Is it a known phrase?
: : : What is the origin of it.
: : : Thank you
: : Perhaps you misheard it and the word was infallible.
: : From M-W Online:
: : Main Entry: in·fal·li·ble
: : Pronunciation: (")in-'fa-l&-b&l
: : Function: adjective
: : Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin infallibilis, from Latin in- + Late Latin fallibilis fallible
: : 1 : incapable of error : UNERRING
: : 2 : not liable to mislead, deceive, or disappoint : CERTAIN
: : 3 : incapable of error in defining doctrines touching faith or morals
: : - in·fal·li·bil·i·ty /-"fa-l&-'bi-l&-tE/ noun
: : - in·fal·li·bly /-'fa-l&-blE/ adverb
: "Misheard it"...well, if the book was on tape. Otherwise, it was most likely read, not heard. "Inflammable" means, literally, prone to catching on fire. Figuratively, given the context, it probably means prone to having fits of temper. Tenors are known for that. They aren't known for being infallible.
I am trying to think of a similar phrase and can't quite recall. It is something like: temperamental (high-strung) as a Metropolitan opera star.