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 platoon marched up a hill, but before reaching the top, Shoemaker said everything exploded. Htv National Desk, Houston Chronicle, "50 years later, Vietnam Army vet searching for life-saving dog handler," 6 Nov. 2019 There were so many rounds that family members said one of the cars exploded. CBS News, "At least 9 members of American family killed in Mexico, most of them kids," 5 Nov. 2019 The vehicle exploded when bullets hit the gas tank, the newspaper said. Daniel González, azcentral, "Queen Creek woman says at least 10 relatives murdered on way to wedding in Mexico," 4 Nov. 2019 Fans practically exploded with excitement over the duet on Twitter. Kayleigh Roberts, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga and Ashanti Surprised Fans with an Impromptu Duet in Vegas," 28 Oct. 2019 The music coils and then explodes with drums and guitar, lending strain and excitement to the decision to stay alive. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "When Music’s Sad Boys Chase Happiness," 24 Oct. 2019 Police said the device exploded not far from a police vehicle, but there were no injuries or substantial damage. John Leicester, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hong Kong’s leader: Territory not becoming a police state," 15 Oct. 2019 Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields exploded with six touchdowns in the second quarter of the Buckeyes' matchup against Miami (OH) on Saturday. Jenna West, SI.com, "Ohio State QB Justin Fields Totals Six Touchdowns in One Quarter vs. Miami (OH)," 21 Sep. 2019 Last year the Hartbeat Music Festival on Hartford’s Mortensen Riverfront Plaza exploded onto the local music scene in September with an entire day of music and one of the most eclectic lineups in the state. Chip Mccabe, courant.com, "Hartbeat Music Festival: Take a listen to the 24 bands that will play for 12 hours on Hartford’s Riverfront Plaza," 27 Aug. 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

22 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Explode.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exploding. Accessed 22 November 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

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