ex·plode | \ik-ˈsplōd \
exploded; exploding

Definition of explode 

transitive verb

1 archaic : to drive from the stage by noisy disapproval

2 : to bring into disrepute or discredit explode a theory

3 : to cause to explode or burst noisily explode a bomb

intransitive verb

1 : to burst forth with sudden violence or noise from internal energy: such as

a : to undergo a rapid chemical or nuclear reaction with the production of noise, heat, and violent expansion of gases dynamite explodes

b : to burst violently as a result of pressure from within

2a : to give forth a sudden strong and noisy outburst of emotion exploded in anger

b : to move with sudden speed and force exploded from the starting gate

3 : to increase rapidly the population of the city exploded

4 : to suggest an explosion (as in appearance or effect) shrubs exploded with blossoms

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Other Words from explode

exploder noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for explode


blow, blow up, burst, detonate, go off, pop



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Did You Know?

Theatergoers in ancient Rome could be noisy in showing both their enjoyment and their dislike of a performance. One of the ways they made noise was by clapping their hands loudly. The Latin verb plaudere meant “to make a noise by loud clapping.” When Romans were showing their approval of a performance, the word used was applaudere, from which we get our English word applaud. When Romans did not like a performance, they often drove the performer from the stage by loud claps. The word for this was explodere or explaudere, from the prefix ex-, meaning “out, away,” and plaudere. From this word we get our English word explode. At first, explode meant “to drive from the stage by a noisy expression of dislike,” but this sense has all but disappeared.

Examples of explode in a Sentence

One of the shells failed to explode. These occasional skirmishes may soon explode into all-out war. The birds suddenly exploded into flight. The building exploded in flames. She looked like she was ready to explode with anger.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The other piece de resistance was a completely plumed black feather minidress that looked like a ball of exploding quills. Roxanne Robinson, The Hollywood Reporter, "Alexandre Vauthier Shows "Super Parisian" Couture Collection," 3 July 2018 The Blazer is evidence of how the SUV market is exploding. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Why shoppers will want the all-new 2019 Chevy Blazer," 21 June 2018 Dogs and cats that are left outdoors on Independence Day often get spooked by fireworks exploding above and get loose, often ending up in the hands of Louisville Metro Animal Services, said Teeya Barnes, public information specialist for the agency. Kate Talerico, The Courier-Journal, "Lost your pet on July 4? Try looking for them at Louisville shelters," 5 July 2018 Oil prices tanked after Walker took office, exploding Alaska's budget deficit. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "Former Sen. Mark Begich’s entry causes angst in Alaska governor’s race," 4 July 2018 The two men hobbled away from the plane, which exploded moments later. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Pilot: 'It was completely quiet' before crash landing," 4 July 2018 According to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the engine on the 40-foot boat exploded at about 9 a.m. when the vessel was off Barraterre island in the Exuma Islands. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "One U.S. tourist dead and others severely injured after Bahamas tour boat exploded," 3 July 2018 As a final insult, a couple of winged missiles went AWOL, taking up roost under a general's car before exploding. Lucy Cooke, ajc, "US military is interested in bats as possible defenders against bioweapons," 3 July 2018 The homemade pipe bomb didn't explode or cause any injuries. refinery29.com, "Everything The Staircase Left Out," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'explode.' 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 explode

1615, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for explode

Latin explodere to drive off the stage by clapping, from ex- + plaudere to clap

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Phrases Related to explode

burst/explode into flames

Statistics for explode

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for explode

The first known use of explode was in 1615

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More Definitions for explode



English Language Learners Definition of explode

: to suddenly break apart in a violent way with parts flying outward

: to change in a very sudden and violent way

: to move with sudden speed and force


ex·plode | \ik-ˈsplōd \
exploded; exploding

Kids Definition of explode

1 : to burst or cause to burst with violence and noise The bomb exploded.

2 : to suddenly show or say with great emotion He exploded with anger.


ex·plode | \ik-ˈsplōd \
exploded; exploding

Medical Definition of explode 

transitive verb

: to cause to explode or burst noisily explode a bomb

intransitive verb

: to undergo a rapid chemical or nuclear reaction with the production of noise, heat, and violent expansion of gases

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Comments on explode

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