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Example sentence:

We stood before the bonfire watching the bottle melt __ flames.

I thought among was the word, but if you search for melt among X on Google you get zero results.

What the correct preposition?

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    I don't understand the question. Is the sun itself melting? Is the sun melting something else? If the latter, what? Your desire to use "melt among" implies the sun is not melting the clouds. A sentence which would make sense to me would be something like, "The child watched the sun melt ice on the sidewalk." Note there is no preposition needed between sun and melt.
    – RichF
    Feb 9, 2017 at 15:00
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    It depends on what you mean. Are the cloud the cause of the sun melting, does the sun make the clouds melt? Maybe try an easier example, with a metal object or something. Feb 9, 2017 at 15:01
  • If you don't mean that the sun is literally melting (dissolving) but rather using it metaphorically to mean that it's setting, then I would say "melt into burning clouds". (This is a guess, since a sun can't actually melt -- that implies going from a solid state to liquid, but a sun is a ball of gas and plasma.)
    – Roger
    Feb 9, 2017 at 15:22
  • @TeleportingGoat I updated the example
    – alex
    Feb 9, 2017 at 15:35
  • This question bothers me because a normal bonfire isn't hot enough to melt glass. A very hot bonfire can get up to 1100° C, but glass melts at 1400° C
    – Andrew
    Feb 9, 2017 at 17:23

3 Answers 3

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I think the preposition you want is into:

TFD shows:

melt into something

to melt and change into a different state
All the ice cream melted into a sticky soup.

Oxford Learner's Dictionary shows a more figurative usage:

melt into something

to gradually become part of something and therefore become difficult to see
Once the introductions had been made, she melted into the background.

So, if you mean to say that the bottle started to literally melt and then gradually be consumed by the fire (I am imagining a plastic bottle here), then you could indeed say:

We stood before the bonfire watching the bottle melt into flames.


For the record, I thought your original was just fine, although I would have used an article:

We stood on the hill watching the sun melt into the burning clouds.

Some people had trouble with this, but I think they were thinking too literally. A sentence like that could be used to describe a sunset like this:

enter image description here

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    Perhaps "melt into the flames"? The bottle doesn't become flames, which is what is implied without the article.
    – Catija
    Feb 9, 2017 at 17:03
  • @Catija - I was imagining a plastic bottle that could catch fire. Your version would indeed be better for a glass bottle that is melting but not burning.
    – J.R.
    Feb 9, 2017 at 17:18
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Thanks for updating the example; it's clearer now. To melt among the flames is OK, but if you mean "in the middle of", a better choice might be amid or amidst. If you means the bottle slumps down into the flames, or turns into flames, then into is a good choice.

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To melt can be transitive or intransitive. In its transitive form, it's either:

We stood before the bonfire watching the flames melt the bottle.

or

We stood before the bonfire watching the bottle being melted by the flames.

Now I see what you meant when you said you wanted to use "among" with the intransitive form of "to melt", but I don't think it's idiomatic.

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  • Are you sure? I get some Google hits: "melt into burning" google.com.tw/…
    – alex
    Feb 9, 2017 at 15:42
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    @alex Well, yeah that exists, but it means something else. "A melts into burning B" means that by melting, A is turned into B. For example: "The bottle melts into burning glass". It's not a perfect example but you get the idea. Feb 9, 2017 at 15:46
  • "Melt" can be intransitive, though.
    – user3395
    Feb 9, 2017 at 16:14

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