ex·​plode | \ ik-ˈsplōd How to pronounce explode (audio) \
exploded; exploding

Definition of explode

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

transitive verb

1 : to cause to explode or burst noisily explode a bomb
2 : to bring into disrepute or discredit explode a theory
3 archaic : to drive from the stage by noisy disapproval

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Other Words from explode

exploder noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for explode



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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 coronavirus pandemic has left much of the economy in peril, but political ads remain bullish and are expected to explode in the coming months. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Political ad spending expected to set records in 2020 cycle despite falling economy," 17 May 2020 Arizona’s offense is set to explode in 2020 and deliver a level of scoring that few NFL teams can match. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals record projections: How many wins will team get in 2020 NFL season?," 8 May 2020 The ball seemed to explode off his bat, climb high in the air, and sail over the heads of the outfielders. Randy Roberts And Johnny Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "When Babe Ruth and the Great Influenza Gripped Boston," 30 Apr. 2020 And that number might be poised to explode; as of this year, Medicare will cover acupuncture for those seeking relief from chronic lower back pain. Dianna Mazzone, Allure, "The Acupuncture Terms You Should Know Before Your First Appointment," 19 Apr. 2020 The sea change happened as public fear of this pandemic began to explode. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "How Democrats Won Big in Wisconsin," 14 Apr. 2020 It cannot be overemphasized that any country attempting to implement these adjustments must ensure eternal vigilance since relaxation could potentially lead to carelessness, causing infections to explode. W. Gyude Moore, Quartz Africa, "Curfews are a safer plan than total lockdowns to slow Covid-19’s spread in informal economies," 11 Apr. 2020 Some experts fear even those numbers are too optimistic, given that outbreaks are now poised to explode in places—including Louisiana, Michigan, and Florida—that are ill-prepared for the surge of people needing hospitalization. Science News Staff, Science | AAAS, "The United States leads in coronavirus cases, but not pandemic response," 1 Apr. 2020 The 30-inch pipe that exploded, Line 10, feeds into the Texas Eastern — a network of 9,100 miles of piping that stretches from Texas to New York and moves 20% of America's natural gas. Kala Kachmar, The Courier-Journal, "Federal agency investigates second Eastern Kentucky pipeline explosion within a year," 5 May 2020

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 3

History and Etymology for explode

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

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Time Traveler for explode

Time Traveler

The first known use of explode was in 1615

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Statistics for explode

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Explode.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/explode. Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for explode


How to pronounce explode (audio)

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 How to pronounce explode (audio) \
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 How to pronounce explode (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on explode

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for explode

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with explode

Spanish Central: Translation of explode

Nglish: Translation of explode for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of explode for Arabic Speakers

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