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, crump, 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

Residents under the bombs would routinely recall being thrown through the air by the pressure waves of air mines exploding, and window casements and doors would be blown off their hinges. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "World War II bombings weakened upper atmosphere at edge of space," 25 Sep. 2018 My favorite part working on Broadway is going out after the show and telling hilarious stories about [our] worst auditions, wigs falling off, bras exploding. Loren King, BostonGlobe.com, "Series that brings Broadway stars to Provincetown may lose its home," 5 July 2018 Viewing figures exploded for England’s World Cup penalty triumph last night against Columbia as 23.6 million views tuned into ITV to watch the match, according to the BBC. SI.com, "Viewing Figures for England's World Cup Triumph Set New Records in the UK," 4 July 2018 Allied forces, at long last, managed to contain German troops in their push toward Paris, but not before weeks of fearsome combat, sometimes hand-to-hand with bayonets amid clouds of mustard gas and shells exploding in the dark, overgrown woods. Erik Brady, USA TODAY, "How old is former NFL coach Marv Levy? His dad was wounded in World War I," 27 June 2018 Meanwhile, a series of bombs exploded across southern Thailand, damaging banks. The Economist, "Politics this week," 24 May 2018 The same goes for the reverberating sounds of rocks and lava exploding out of the volcano. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "A ‘Lava Chaser’ Explains the Thrill of Getting Dangerously Close to Hawaii’s Kilauea Eruption," 14 May 2018 Their heavier counterparts will explode, sometimes leaving in place nature’s ultimate rebuke to the stars’ luminescent flamboyance: black holes. Alan Hirshfeld, WSJ, "Book Review: Feeling Gravity’s Pull," 16 Nov. 2018 Last year, a home less than 200 feet away from an aging well in Firestone, Colorado, exploded and killed two men. Umair Irfan, Vox, "A major anti-fracking ballot measure in Colorado has failed," 7 Nov. 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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Statistics for explode

Last Updated

6 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on explode

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with explode

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for explode

Spanish Central: Translation of explode

Nglish: Translation of explode for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of explode for Arabic Speakers

Comments on explode

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a nest or breeding place

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