When the discussion gets heated, are tempers “inflamed” or “enflamed”? Is there a difference? Which one should you use? Some days, it might feel hard to keep yourself in check, but before passions flare (or is it “flair”?), let’s settle this once and for all.
The big question is, should we start by going back to Middle English (arguably the first English form of this word) or should we go all the way back to Latin? In the 1400s, the word “enflamen” came from the Anglo-French word enflamer, but just before you want to call it a win for the “en-” form, let’s travel further (not farther) back in time to the Latin root. Now, we see where the confusion started, because this root is inflammare. Suddenly, you’re thinking about “inflammable,” “inflammation,” and a number of other words that share this same origin, all with the “in-” prefix.
Thus, in short, there have been centuries of confusion and waffling between the two spellings, but since roughly 1600, “inflamed” has been the more popular form. Many dictionaries and spellcheck programs will let you get away with “enflamed,” but know that “inflamed” with that “i” is the standard spelling.
Who knew there were so many word confusion issues surrounding the idea of fire? “Lit” vs. “Lighted.” “Immolate” vs. “emulate.” “Burned” vs. “burnt.” I guess this is just one more for the list, fighting fire with grammar-checked fire.