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 feeling of exploding transformed into a frenzied need to get out on the fabled, endless singletrack trails surrounding the city. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "Bursting with joy over vast landscapes, extensive bike trails and time to enjoy them," 12 Sep. 2019 Top Gun was filmed with the cooperation of the U.S. Navy, and with the exception of exploding airplanes, all of the footage was of real aircraft. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "You Have to Watch This Stunning Recreation of 'Top Gun' in a Flight Simulator," 11 Sep. 2019 Another prolific quarterback-receiver connection paced the effort, with Foster QB Ryan Stubblefield exploding for 324 yards and five TDs on 16-of-25 passing and WR Cody Jackson hauling in seven balls for 157 yards and four scores. Jason Mcdaniel, Houston Chronicle, "High school football games to watch in Week 2," 4 Sep. 2019 Reiffel—who as a researcher in the ’50s was once tasked with exploring the possibility of exploding an atomic bomb on the moon—was in the booth with Madden for those first playoff games with the Telestrator. SI.com, "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019 The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. Dan Sweeney, sun-sentinel.com, "Can you nuke a hurricane? Trump says suggestion is ‘fake news.’ Scientists say it’s even worse than that.," 26 Aug. 2019 But with exploding growth came an implosion of her business. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Rachel Ashwell's Not Doing Too Shabby," 6 Aug. 2019 What Congress can do about exploding white supremacist terrorism: pass gun safety laws, name WS as terrorism in statute, &more. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Politicians Offer Prayers After a Mass Shooting," 5 Aug. 2019 In Chicago, Comiskey Park’s exploding scoreboard shot sparks when the lunar module touched down, which happened to coincide with Walt Williams’ infield single to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. Scott Allen, The Denver Post, "When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Major League Baseball stood still," 18 July 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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Statistics for explode

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for explode

The first known use of explode was in 1615

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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

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concealed or difficult to comprehend

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