det·o·nate | \ˈde-tᵊn-ˌāt, 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

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Other Words from detonate

detonatable \-ˌā-tə-bəl, -ˌnā- \ adjective
detonative \ˈde-tᵊn-ˌā-tiv, ˈde-tə-ˌnā- \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for detonate


blow, blow up, burst, explode, go off, pop



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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

Can there be fashion diplomacy after detonating the nuclear option? James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: GOP candidates caught in a bind on Medicaid," 13 July 2018 Can there be fashion diplomacy after detonating the nuclear option? Robin Givhan, Houston Chronicle, "Nothing else Melania Trump wears will ever matter again," 13 July 2018 What would happen if a ten-kiloton terrorist bomb were detonated in Times Square. 1. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 In the Kabul attack, a bomb was detonated in the parking area of the Ministry of Rural Development about 1 p.m. Monday, a ministry spokesman, Mohammad Daud Naeemi, said. New York Times, "In Advance of Cease-Fires, Bombings in Afghanistan Kill at Least 18," 11 June 2018 And yes, there is a bit where everyone is shouting password guesses to try to stop the malware from detonating, as the Bosnian sniper and her crew attempt to ambush the president. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The President Is Missing… a few finer points on how the cyber works in this novel," 17 June 2018 French and British forces joined in the invasion, prompting threats by the Soviet Union to detonate nuclear weapons over Europe. Bonnie L. Cook,, "James W. Scott, 83, Navy veteran and insurance executive," 14 June 2018 When 500 pounds of dynamite detonated early Sunday morning in Kansas City, the explosions obliterated a once-posh hotel — and with it, a piece of Kansas City organized crime history. Ian Cummings, Robert A. Cronkleton And Matt Campbell, kansascity, "Demolished hotel played part in Kansas City mob history, 1970s Las Vegas casino case," 24 June 2018 Each 500-pound bomb was set to detonate just above its target for maximum lethality, operating more through overpressure than fragmentation. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for detonate

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for detonate

The first known use of detonate was in 1729

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English Language Learners Definition of detonate

: to explode or to cause (something, such as a bomb) to explode

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Comments on detonate

What made you want to look up detonate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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