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 container exploded and Crozier received burns to more than 90% of her body. Washington Post, "Court declines to intervene in upcoming Tennessee execution," 3 Dec. 2019 That number has since exploded to more than 1,000 wineries this year, and the remarkable growth is likely to continue. Nicholas K. Geranios, SFChronicle.com, "From modest beginnings, Washington now a force in wine world," 27 Nov. 2019 Eileen Collins, commander of Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-93, as well as dozens of stunning depictions of nebulas, supernovae, galaxy clusters, exploded and colliding stars, and supermassive black holes. Anna Diamond, Smithsonian, "Chandra Telescope Observes Two Decades of Turning Theory Into Reality," 26 Nov. 2019 Junior running back Eric Watts exploded for 302 yards on 27 carries and scored three touchdowns against the Gophers. Josh Bean | Jbean@al.com, al, "Alabama HS football: Get ready for this week’s semifinals," 25 Nov. 2019 But in the past decade, as viewing options exploded and audiences fragmented, most ratings juggernauts (The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family) lagged behind the times. Judy Berman, Time, "The 10 Best TV Shows of the 2010s," 15 Nov. 2019 The box exploded, and shrapnel punctured a fuel tank on the plane’s left wing. Alison Steinbach, azcentral, "Untested pyrotechnic box faulted for Gilbert plane crash into home," 14 Nov. 2019 Gender Reveal’ Explosion Instead, the stand exploded and Kreimeyer was struck in the head by a piece of metal, which killed her instantly. Rachel Desantis, PEOPLE.com, "‘Gender Reveal’ Stunt Involving Pink Water Caused Small Plane Crash in Texas, Injuring 1: NTSB," 11 Nov. 2019 Reminder of New Zealand's pedigree New Zealand exploded out of the blocks and crossed the line inside five minutes. Daniel Gallan, CNN, "All Blacks run rampant against Wales to end Rugby World Cup on a high," 1 Nov. 2019

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

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Explode.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/explode?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=e&file=explod01. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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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

Comments on explode

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


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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