det·​o·​nate | \ ˈde-tᵊn-ˌāt How to pronounce detonate (audio) , ˈde-tə-ˌnāt \
detonated; detonating

Definition of detonate

intransitive verb

: to explode with sudden violence

transitive verb

1 : to cause to detonate detonate a bomb — compare deflagrate
2 : to set off in a burst of activity : spark programs that detonated controversies

Other Words from detonate

detonatable \ ˈde-​tᵊn-​ˌā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce detonate (audio) , ˈde-​tə-​ˌnā-​ \ adjective
detonative \ ˈde-​tᵊn-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce detonate (audio) , ˈde-​tə-​ˌnā-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for detonate



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Examples of detonate in a Sentence

The first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945. the bomb detonated with a thunder that could be heard for blocks in all directions
Recent Examples on the Web Perhaps Russia might detonate a nuclear weapon over the Black Sea, a kind of intermediary step that doesn’t kill lots of people but would shock the world. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 7 Mar. 2022 The drillers are assigned to drill on the surface of the asteroid and detonate a bomb within it. Alexia Fernández,, 11 Jan. 2022 On Thursday, the Defense Ministry explained the damage to Russia’s Black Sea flagship by a fire had caused ammunition stowed on board to detonate. Adam Schreck,, 15 Apr. 2022 In 1958, the U.S. government comes up with a plan to detonate five thermonuclear bombs in a stretch of land in Alaska. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Apr. 2022 In 1997, police foiled a plot by two men to detonate pipe bombs in the busy Atlantic Avenue station in downtown Brooklyn. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 12 Apr. 2022 They’ve been overhauled and fitted with new running gear and slat armor designed to pre-detonate the warheads of anti-tank missiles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 12 Apr. 2022 Unlike long-range Predator drones, which look similar to small planes and fire missiles at targets, Switchblade drones are the missiles, using GPS to guide themselves straight into their targets to detonate their payloads. Matt Seyler, ABC News, 17 Mar. 2022 Javelin has two warheads, a smaller one to detonate a tank’s explosive reactive armor and a larger one to follow up and punch through the armor itself. J.d. Crowe |, al, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detonate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of detonate

1729, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for detonate

French détoner to explode, from Latin detonare to expend thunder, from de- + tonare to thunder — more at thunder entry 1

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The first known use of detonate was in 1729

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Detonate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on detonate

Nglish: Translation of detonate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detonate for Arabic Speakers


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