Definition of explosion in US English:



  • 1A violent and destructive shattering or blowing apart of something, as is caused by a bomb.

    • ‘A passerby was wounded, several cars were damaged and windows in nearby building were shattered by the explosion.’
    • ‘The sound of thunder ripped me from my slumber, not one, not two but three enormous explosions shattered the still morning air.’
    • ‘That explosion shattered windows and caused heavy damage in one of the city's busiest areas.’
    • ‘The facades and windows had been blown out by the explosion and smoke was billowing from the building.’
    • ‘The ball was fired into the wall with an explosion like a bomb going off, blowing out a hole in the wall the size of a small house.’
    • ‘We held hands until a sudden explosion beneath us caused the hotel to rock violently.’
    • ‘The number of bomb explosions has soared to 85 cases this year, a five-fold leap from last year, which saw 17 cases.’
    • ‘The explosions occurred just minutes apart as many people were headed back to their break after a daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.’
    • ‘There were no bullets and the explosions were made by blowing up a mixture of peat and cork, but the anxiety and tension were all too real more than 85 years after the Armistice.’
    • ‘In the northern province, a bomb explosion damaged an oil pipeline.’
    • ‘The country is caught in a vicious web of bloody violence caused by grenade and bomb explosions, numerous bomb threats and the inability of the security forces to stop these.’
    • ‘Earlier today there were at least two reported car bomb explosions outside three churches in an area called Karadi.’
    • ‘Then a series of explosions blew more the ship apart until, finally, the reactor detonated in a dazzling spiral of flames and blue light.’
    • ‘The vehicle was damaged in an explosion of a bomb planted on a road 5-6 km east of the camp.’
    • ‘A medic had found her on the platform near one of the commuter trains that had been ripped apart by twin bomb explosions.’
    • ‘Fire engulfed the ships, and explosions from ammunition blew the ships apart.’
    • ‘The death toll in the car bomb explosions has now risen to 28 with 80 seriously injured ad over 100 suffering with other injuries.’
    • ‘The peace in the town was shattered by the explosion, which blew out doors and windows and sprayed glass across the street.’
    • ‘The number of the injured in the explosion amount to more than 1,300, excluding over 160 deaths that have been reported.’
    • ‘Three additional explosions caused by roadside bombs killed three insurgents planting the devices, police said.’
    detonation, discharge, eruption, blowing up, ignition
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    1. 1.1technical A violent expansion in which energy is transmitted outward as a shock wave.
      • ‘When massive stars die, most of their energy is released as neutrinos in violent supernova explosions.’
      • ‘They carry a large fraction of the kinetic energy of the explosions of very massive stars.’
      • ‘If the energy from stellar explosions doesn't destroy them, ultraviolet light from nearby ultraluminous stars will.’
      • ‘They are cooler areas and tend to erupt in gigantic explosions sending a tremendous amount of radiation towards the earth.’
      • ‘The researchers also plan to measure the speed of the explosion's shock wave to get further data.’
      detonation, discharge, burst, eruption
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    2. 1.2 A sudden outburst of something such as noise, light, or violent emotion, especially anger.
      ‘an explosion of anger’
      • ‘In an explosion of emotions, I broke down and cried.’
      • ‘The same explosion of public anger and immediate calls for improved safety followed the deaths of 31 people in the rail crash in October last year.’
      • ‘From the beginning the relationship was volatile, with constant emotional explosions.’
      • ‘The heavy explosion of hatred, anger, hurt, confusion and… some deeply hidden terror struck her like an A-bomb.’
      • ‘Isolation led to claustrophobia led to sudden explosions of violence.’
      • ‘Finding oneself faced by danger, difficulties, sudden outburst or an explosion of anger, one shouldn't react quickly.’
      • ‘City officials are worried that another horrific police killing could provoke an explosion of popular anger given the deepening social crisis in New York.’
      • ‘As the energy swirled about him, he marvelled at the sudden explosion of power that surged through his veins.’
      • ‘Constantly downing cans of beer, he only relates to his son with silence, self-hatred, and sudden explosions of violence.’
      • ‘The strong emphasis on peaceful conduct and emotional control can result in explosions of violent behavior under the influence of alcohol.’
      • ‘The riots were an explosion of raw anger against the racism and brutality of the police, and the continued denial of basic civil rights.’
      • ‘The first signs that all is not well may be anything from a slow escalation of irritable behaviour to a sudden explosion of violence.’
      • ‘Described as powerful, domineering and charismatic, he alternated affection with explosions of anger that terrified children and staff.’
      • ‘We do not particularly approve of the explosions of anger.’
      • ‘Nero had to quickly prepare himself for the explosion of anger that was to come.’
      • ‘The recent explosion of popular anger comes after centuries of misrule.’
      • ‘It is an explosion of emotions and, by the end of the show, she is left sweating and gasping for breath.’
      • ‘The protests were explosions of anger in which typically anywhere between 500 and 1,000 protesters blocked busy roads with burning barricades.’
      • ‘This provoked an explosion of anger by rank-and-file workers.’
      • ‘Jason couldn't understand her sudden explosion of anger and he knew there had to be more to what was bothering her than the spider prank.’
      outburst, flare-up, blow-up, outbreak, eruption, storm, rush, spate, surge, rash, wave, access, effusion
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    3. 1.3 A sudden political or social upheaval.
      ‘there will have to be sweeping changes if the political leaders want to avoid an explosion’
      • ‘But they are concerned - and rightly so - that an attempt to call off the November election could produce a social and political explosion.’
      • ‘A political explosion happened this weekend in New York, and it may be the big one that gives some in the government nightmares.’
      • ‘Many still see the danger of a social explosion even if the government appears to have regained the upper hand over the rebels for now.’
      • ‘He expressed the concern that if redundancy money were simply spent on necessities, there would be a social explosion waiting to happen when that money ran out.’
      • ‘Many agree on one point: If no action is taken, the country runs the risk of a social explosion.’
      • ‘The brain drain of the late 1960s was a harbinger of the social explosion or the February Revolution of 1970.’
      • ‘The deputies blamed him for instigating a social explosion through his law-and-order policies and provocative statements.’
      • ‘Even more important, as far as Western capitalist interests are concerned, is the threat of social and political explosions in huge areas of the world.’
      • ‘The outcome of the approaching political explosions will depend decisively on the degree to which this new perspective gains influence.’
      • ‘That negative view persists because the burning issues thrown up in the course of the social explosions are never resolved.’
      • ‘If push ever came to shove, and there was a social explosion, I have little doubt that the Declaration of the Rights of Man would have little influence on the official response.’
      • ‘The post 1966 government achieved initial economic success and then collapsed in an explosion of social protest.’
      • ‘At the same time, the regime is desperate to avoid a social explosion.’
      • ‘Within the ruling elite, there are fears that re-establishment of conscription under the present circumstances would lead to a political explosion.’
      • ‘Even though there are many peaceful and democratic people, it is too difficult to stop a social explosion.’
      • ‘It indicates that the ruling elite fears a social explosion.’
      • ‘Because of its size, complexity and potential for igniting international political explosions, this case is already creating drama.’
      • ‘This is a city of massive contradictions, and you can see why the wealthy are fearful of social explosions.’
      • ‘The fear of a social explosion goes a long way to explain the crass media manipulation of the current changing of the guard at New York's City Hall.’
      • ‘The protests will prove to be a dress rehearsal compared with greater social explosions that will occur in the future.’
    4. 1.4 A rapid or sudden increase in amount or extent.
      ‘an explosion in the adder population’
      • ‘An explosion in scrap steel prices during the first quarter got the ball rolling with huge price increases for almost every construction product made of steel.’
      • ‘Framed by the two world wars, this was a fascinating period with an explosion of political, artistic and cultural movements that still resonate with us today.’
      • ‘There has been an exponential explosion in the financial planning industry, a whole industry dedicated to making people wealthy.’
      • ‘Directly, the explosion in house prices and the sustained increases in rents is driving up the cost of living and exerting pressure on pay demands.’
      • ‘As we may well be on the verge of an explosion in metals prices, you should be making your investments accordingly.’
      • ‘This adds to the severe problems of a market on the knife's edge of a price explosion.’
      • ‘These developments were the beginning of the technology which has grown exponentially towards its modern explosion.’
      • ‘The growing realisation that computer skills can make or break people's future prospects may have helped to explain the explosion in popularity of information technology.’
      • ‘Since 1953 there has been a virtual explosion in the amount of information about the structure and function of DNA.’
      • ‘Improving medical technology alone has led to an explosion in the amount of treatment and surgery that's not only possible, but deemed to be necessary.’
      • ‘The early 80s saw an explosion in political button badges but since then, button badge manufacturing has gone into steady decline.’
      • ‘There has been an explosion in the amount of legal advertising on television in the last decade or so.’
      • ‘Wine from the United States has seen a similar explosion in sales, increasing from £33.4m to almost £309m.’
      • ‘An explosion in property prices could follow in the second and third quarters.’
      • ‘There is concern the explosion in steel prices will push general inflation.’
      • ‘There was no sudden explosion in prices or availability of petrol at the pumps.’
      • ‘But if not, then there could be a sulfurous explosion of political animosity.’
      • ‘There is no precedent in Irish history for the explosion in property prices, both residential and commercial, over the past decade.’
      • ‘The slow accretion of shanty towns to the shell of the city is punctuated by storms of poverty and sudden explosions of slum-building.’
      • ‘I am convinced that we are approaching a bifurcation of similar magnitude that is connected to the explosion of information technology.’
      sudden increase, rapid increase, dramatic increase, mushrooming, snowballing, escalation, multiplication, burgeoning, rocketing, shooting up
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    5. 1.5Phonetics
      another term for plosion


Early 17th century: from Latin explosio(n-) ‘scornful rejection’, from the verb explodere (see explode).