Definition of explosive in English:



  • 1Able or likely to shatter violently or burst apart.

    ‘an explosive device’
    • ‘‘You drop a tank of fuel and a small explosive charge to burst it apart,’ he explained.’
    • ‘Neither gun nor explosive technology made really dramatic advances among the Allied technological establishments.’
    • ‘Several homes in nearby have already been demolished after suffering a potentially explosive build-up of the gas, which is known to miners as Fire Damp.’
    • ‘They knew for some time that this highly explosive material had disappeared.’
    • ‘In a separate incident, a branch near the capital was damaged by a explosive device made from small cooking gas cylinders.’
    • ‘"It appeared to be a potentially explosive device," said a spokeswoman for the county.’
    • ‘Similarly the very explosive eruptions in the Glacier Peak range were associated with rapid ice sheet thinning.’
    • ‘Flying jets in wing formation in the weather and carrying explosive ordnance on board is dangerous work.’
    • ‘Activity at the summit is nearly continuous, characterized by occasional lava overflow and brief, highly explosive eruptions.’
    • ‘As we reported, the military today said it discovered sarin nerve gas in an explosive device, an artillery shell, in fact.’
    • ‘When this vehicle was blown apart by an improvised explosive device, an IED, debris flew in every direction.’
    • ‘He said no one had been able to identify the person responsible for dumping the explosive device in a garbage bin.’
    • ‘It sounds simple: an explosive charge in a metal body that's designed to break up into fragments upon detonation.’
    • ‘The military quickly sealed off the area as army experts searched for more explosive devices.’
    • ‘Yet young children, teenagers and irresponsible adults are carrying in hand and pocket highly explosive materials.’
    • ‘To carry out his plan, he purchased more explosive devices and assembled two remote control devices.’
    • ‘Each cord initiates a small explosive device that injects a violently active organic compound subcutaneously into a large area of the volunteer's chest.’
    • ‘B-2s deliver explosive ordnance - airlift platforms generally do not.’
    • ‘The two powerful explosive charges being laid are expertly placed.’
    • ‘To complete the illusion, a small explosive charge was to go off in the grocery bag.’
    volatile, inflammable, flammable, combustible, incendiary, eruptive, unstable
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    1. 1.1(of a vocal sound) produced with a sharp release of air.
      ‘Ruth let out an explosive sound of disbelief’
      • ‘Fewer spoken words start with vowels, which provide more subtle acoustic cues than the more explosive consonant sounds.’
  • 2Likely to cause an outburst of anger or controversy.

    ‘Marco's explosive temper’
    ‘the idea was politically explosive’
    • ‘Willingness to negotiate and compromise, when appropriate, helps regain control of an explosive situation.’
    • ‘The captain did the only sane thing to do in a very explosive situation.’
    • ‘The explosive controversy surrounding the scandal carried an important lesson for conservatives.’
    • ‘The tremendous speed with which they abandoned all their previous standpoints is a measure of the depth and extent of the explosive contradictions tearing society apart.’
    • ‘The league, moving in their habitually mysterious ways, think the club have been ‘excessive’ in response to a moderately explosive controversy.’
    • ‘The article contained potentially explosive material, yet its contents pass by the editors without comment.’
    • ‘It's a complicated case, marred by a disputed confession, a paucity of witnesses and the sudden, explosive nature of the incident itself.’
    • ‘His explosive temper not only caused an opposing player's arm to be broken, it sullied the reputation of one of his players.’
    • ‘And although the recent cooperation has yielded important results, it promises to be politically explosive.’
    • ‘Vans carrying anti-riot squad officers and dog handlers flooded the street to defuse what could have been an explosive situation.’
    • ‘Whatever the motive for the shooting, political experts are quick to point out that even the threat of political violence can have an explosive effect.’
    • ‘This guy's nasty, explosive temper outweighs his good points by far!’
    • ‘The situation is indeed explosive to say the least.’
    • ‘In reality, the psychiatrist, a loose canon with an explosive temper, is more in need of anger management than his client.’
    • ‘Here is a suggested sequence of events to participate in to get through anger or a potentially explosive situation.’
    • ‘If anything, she has found being a woman has its advantages in terms of defusing explosive situations.’
    • ‘As it turned out before bedtime I played witness to one of Mia's explosive temper tantrums.’
    • ‘Explicit priority setting, however, is likely to move very slowly because it is politically explosive.’
    • ‘If and when prosecutions arise, the effect could be politically explosive!’
    • ‘In view of the explosive situation, a posse of policemen has been posted in the village.’
    fiery, stormy, violent, volatile, volcanic, angry, fierce, impassioned, passionate, intense, vehement, tempestuous, turbulent, touchy, irritable, irascible, hot-headed, short-tempered, quick-tempered
    tense, charged, highly charged, overwrought
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  • 3(of an increase) sudden and dramatic.

    ‘the explosive growth of personal computers in the 1980s’
    • ‘At any rate there are many other examples of explosive increases in price volatility.’
    • ‘The flowering of classic Russian cuisine coincided with the rapid economic expansion and explosive growth of the middle class in the aftermath of Alexander II's liberal reforms.’
    • ‘However, there has not been a single explosive increase in spending similar to what would have been required to make the business plans of the bubble years a reality.’
    • ‘Dramatic improvement in storage technology, coupled with the explosive growth of the Internet, has fundamentally changed the way in which storage is used.’
    • ‘An explosive increase in car ownership is blamed for a sharp rise in unhealthy emissions.’
    • ‘In the face of the explosive increase in the disease now being seen worldwide, this can only be a temporary phenomenon.’
    • ‘The most explosive growth in global e-commerce sales is taking place in Europe, according to IDC.’
    • ‘The cultivation of genetically modified crops is increasing at an explosive rate, now covering a global area more than two times the size of the United Kingdom.’
    • ‘He said he felt Kildare had been very badly served when it came to an increase in public services, given the explosive population growth in the county.’
    • ‘Since then, the argument goes, there has been an explosive increase in the quantity of money in circulation, mainly due to the creation of credit.’
    • ‘Behind this shift has been a truly explosive rate of increase in personal sector borrowing.’
    • ‘In other words, the explosive increase in the number of passenger cars and licensed drivers over the past decade resulted in poor education in driving etiquette and traffic rules.’
    • ‘Economic collapse, with the resultant decimation of health and social care, has led to the explosive increase in the number of TB cases.’
    • ‘The prime minister has once again gambled on an explosive acceleration in economic growth that has yet to materialise.’
    • ‘Increased birth rates and immigration have resulted in explosive growth in elementary and secondary school student enrollments.’
    • ‘In other words, the body is primed for rapid and explosive muscle growth.’
    • ‘The explosive growth of hedge funds has certainly increased the volatility of markets.’
    • ‘You spoke about the growth and development of an explosive upsurge in the working class in America, and the working class coming onto the scene of history.’
    • ‘This is not to say that there has been an explosive upsurge in strike activity; that workers are on the march; that they are winning left, right and centre.’
    • ‘The explosive growth in the volatility of interest rates and prices is finally over.’
    sudden, dramatic, rapid, abrupt, meteoric
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  • A substance which can be made to explode, especially any of those used in bombs or shells.

    ‘stocks of explosives’
    [mass noun] ‘a car full of explosive’
    • ‘A stolen car was stopped and found to be filled with explosives after two men fled the scene.’
    • ‘No explosives were found in the mortar shell and the bomb disposal unit said no-one in the local area was at risk.’
    • ‘It said one extremist was arrested and a cache of weapons, explosives and money was found.’
    • ‘Not connecting it this way would make it a bomb stripped of all explosives, a dud.’
    • ‘The first step has to be the seizing of the illegal firearms and explosives in the country.’
    • ‘Now Sam trained them to use explosives, to lay charges of dynamite and use rifles.’
    • ‘She wasn't trained extensively in weaponry and ballistics, but it never really was hard to place the sound of a thermal explosive going off.’
    • ‘Authorities have also yet to determine the type of explosives used in the explosions.’
    • ‘Ten cars packed with explosives were to be parked at the conference precinct in Sandton.’
    • ‘If properly mixed the substance can be as lethal as military-grade explosives.’
    • ‘One also prohibited the discharge of projectiles and explosives from balloons.’
    • ‘It turns out it was a World War Two training shell which had no explosives inside.’
    • ‘It was not immediately known whether the explosives had been planted in a car or a building.’
    • ‘He is regarded as an expert on weapons and explosives by those active in circles on the extreme right.’
    • ‘Dogs sniffed them for explosives and bomb squad members blew up at least two bags.’
    • ‘Propellants are the explosives used to fire bullets and shells at enemy targets.’
    • ‘Miners experienced in working with explosives stole dynamite from their own pits and used it.’
    • ‘The offer will not mean a humiliating hand over of rifles, machine guns or explosives.’
    • ‘The enemy rained down explosives and incendiary bombs and then dumped barrels of oil onto the flames.’
    • ‘Their explosives had a time delay trigger to give the divers time to leave the port before exploding.’
    bomb, incendiary device, incendiary, device
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