Where does the word “Firedamp” come from and What does Firedamp mean?

Damp in the word firedamp has nothing to do with moisture, as we ordinarily associate it, but rather with deadening, or choking, or stifling.

In fact the earliest meaning of damp when it mysteriously appeared in the language in 1480 was as a kind of noxious gas exhaled by a goat.

“After this dragon,” wrote Caxton in The Cronicals of Englond, “shal come a goot and ther shal come oute of his nostrel a domp that shal betoken honger and grete deth of peple.”

where does the word firedamp come from and what does firedamp mean

So firedamp, then, is in itself a choking gas, often encountered in coal mines, that may become violently explosive upon contact with a flame.

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Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.