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

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Other Words from detonate

detonatable \ ˈde-​tᵊn-​ˌā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce detonatable (audio) , ˈde-​tə-​ˌnā-​ \ adjective
detonative \ ˈde-​tᵊn-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce detonative (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 Another man detonated the bomb by remote control as Bolles backed out of the parking lot. Chase Hunter, azcentral, "Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles' car goes into storage as Newseum closes," 2 Jan. 2020 Four years earlier, a suicide bomber had detonated his devices in the Jakarta JW Marriott lobby lounge, where then-33-year-old Boon was attending a business breakfast. Washington Post, "Bali bombers’ brother, bomb widow become friends, seek peace," 29 Dec. 2019 On May 20, 1983, a car packed with explosives was detonated next to the South African Air Force headquarters in Pretoria. Khanya Mtshali, The New Yorker, "The Complex Legacy of Vigilantism in South Africa," 26 Dec. 2019 In one attack, a car bomber detonated his explosive, killing eight people, and in the second, a suicide bomber killed four people. Falih Hassan, New York Times, "Iraqi Protesters Lynch Teenager While Police Stand By," 12 Dec. 2019 In October, police detonated an IED found in central Kowloon. Amy Gunia / Hong Kong, Time, "Police Defuse Two Homemade Bombs Being Stored at a Hong Kong High School," 11 Dec. 2019 But the Leopards suddenly detonated a devastating 16 minutes to turn the tale back on the Tigers. al, "Mobile Christian blitzes T.R. Miller, heads to Super 7," 30 Nov. 2019 Sophomore running back Gavin Sawchuk detonated for 210 yards and three touchdowns, while senior Cole Bott completed 5 of 7 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Zain Zinicola (two catches, 103 yards). Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, "Colorado Prep Football Rewind, Week 10: Perfection in 5A, Ralston Valley’s shutdown defense and Aidan Atkinson goes ham… again," 2 Nov. 2019 Baghdadi detonated his suicide belt after one of the U.S. team's military dogs charged him. Author: Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima, Dan Lamothe, Anchorage Daily News, "Officials: A well-placed ISIS mole gave up Baghdadi, leading to raid’s success," 30 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for detonate

Time Traveler

The first known use of detonate was in 1729

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Statistics for detonate

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Detonate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for detonate


How to pronounce detonate (audio)

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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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