Definition of explosive in English:



  • 1Able or likely to shatter violently or burst apart, as when a bomb explodes.

    ‘an explosive device’
    • ‘Similarly the very explosive eruptions in the Glacier Peak range were associated with rapid ice sheet thinning.’
    • ‘The two powerful explosive charges being laid are expertly placed.’
    • ‘Yet young children, teenagers and irresponsible adults are carrying in hand and pocket highly explosive materials.’
    • ‘It sounds simple: an explosive charge in a metal body that's designed to break up into fragments upon detonation.’
    • ‘Activity at the summit is nearly continuous, characterized by occasional lava overflow and brief, highly explosive eruptions.’
    • ‘B-2s deliver explosive ordnance - airlift platforms generally do not.’
    • ‘To complete the illusion, a small explosive charge was to go off in the grocery bag.’
    • ‘Flying jets in wing formation in the weather and carrying explosive ordnance on board is dangerous work.’
    • ‘When this vehicle was blown apart by an improvised explosive device, an IED, debris flew in every direction.’
    • ‘The military quickly sealed off the area as army experts searched for more explosive devices.’
    • ‘As we reported, the military today said it discovered sarin nerve gas in an explosive device, an artillery shell, in fact.’
    • ‘He said no one had been able to identify the person responsible for dumping the explosive device in a garbage bin.’
    • ‘"It appeared to be a potentially explosive device," said a spokeswoman for the county.’
    • ‘To carry out his plan, he purchased more explosive devices and assembled two remote control devices.’
    • ‘They knew for some time that this highly explosive material had disappeared.’
    • ‘Neither gun nor explosive technology made really dramatic advances among the Allied technological establishments.’
    • ‘Each cord initiates a small explosive device that injects a violently active organic compound subcutaneously into a large area of the volunteer's chest.’
    • ‘‘You drop a tank of fuel and a small explosive charge to burst it apart,’ he explained.’
    • ‘In a separate incident, a branch near the capital was damaged by a explosive device made from small cooking gas cylinders.’
    • ‘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.’
    volatile, inflammable, flammable, combustible, incendiary, eruptive, unstable
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Likely to cause an eruption of anger or controversy.
      ‘Marco's explosive temper’
      ‘the idea was politically explosive’
      • ‘If and when prosecutions arise, the effect could be politically explosive!’
      • ‘As it turned out before bedtime I played witness to one of Mia's explosive temper tantrums.’
      • ‘The explosive controversy surrounding the scandal carried an important lesson for conservatives.’
      • ‘If anything, she has found being a woman has its advantages in terms of defusing explosive situations.’
      • ‘Vans carrying anti-riot squad officers and dog handlers flooded the street to defuse what could have been an explosive situation.’
      • ‘In view of the explosive situation, a posse of policemen has been posted in the village.’
      • ‘The article contained potentially explosive material, yet its contents pass by the editors without comment.’
      • ‘In reality, the psychiatrist, a loose canon with an explosive temper, is more in need of anger management than his client.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 captain did the only sane thing to do in a very explosive situation.’
      • ‘And although the recent cooperation has yielded important results, it promises to be politically explosive.’
      • ‘Here is a suggested sequence of events to participate in to get through anger or a potentially explosive situation.’
      • ‘Explicit priority setting, however, is likely to move very slowly because it is politically explosive.’
      • ‘Willingness to negotiate and compromise, when appropriate, helps regain control of an explosive situation.’
      • ‘His explosive temper not only caused an opposing player's arm to be broken, it sullied the reputation of one of his players.’
      • ‘It's a complicated case, marred by a disputed confession, a paucity of witnesses and the sudden, explosive nature of the incident itself.’
      • ‘The league, moving in their habitually mysterious ways, think the club have been ‘excessive’ in response to a moderately explosive controversy.’
      • ‘The situation is indeed explosive to say the least.’
      • ‘This guy's nasty, explosive temper outweighs his good points by far!’
      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
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Relating to a sudden and dramatic increase in amount or extent.
      ‘the explosive growth of personal computers in the 1980s’
      • ‘Increased birth rates and immigration have resulted in explosive growth in elementary and secondary school student enrollments.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the face of the explosive increase in the disease now being seen worldwide, this can only be a temporary phenomenon.’
      • ‘Behind this shift has been a truly explosive rate of increase in personal sector borrowing.’
      • ‘The explosive growth of hedge funds has certainly increased the volatility of markets.’
      • ‘Economic collapse, with the resultant decimation of health and social care, has led to the explosive increase in the number of TB cases.’
      • ‘An explosive increase in car ownership is blamed for a sharp rise in unhealthy emissions.’
      • ‘The most explosive growth in global e-commerce sales is taking place in Europe, according to IDC.’
      • ‘Dramatic improvement in storage technology, coupled with the explosive growth of the Internet, has fundamentally changed the way in which storage is used.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The prime minister has once again gambled on an explosive acceleration in economic growth that has yet to materialise.’
      • ‘In other words, the body is primed for rapid and explosive muscle growth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At any rate there are many other examples of explosive increases in price volatility.’
      sudden, dramatic, rapid, abrupt, meteoric
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3(of a vocal sound) produced with a sharp release of air.
      • ‘Fewer spoken words start with vowels, which provide more subtle acoustic cues than the more explosive consonant sounds.’
    4. 1.4Phonetics
      another term for plosive


  • A substance that can be made to explode, especially any of those used in bombs or shells.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ten cars packed with explosives were to be parked at the conference precinct in Sandton.’
    • ‘The offer will not mean a humiliating hand over of rifles, machine guns or explosives.’
    • ‘Not connecting it this way would make it a bomb stripped of all explosives, a dud.’
    • ‘Authorities have also yet to determine the type of explosives used in the explosions.’
    • ‘One also prohibited the discharge of projectiles and explosives from balloons.’
    • ‘He is regarded as an expert on weapons and explosives by those active in circles on the extreme right.’
    • ‘The first step has to be the seizing of the illegal firearms and explosives in the country.’
    • ‘If properly mixed the substance can be as lethal as military-grade explosives.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their explosives had a time delay trigger to give the divers time to leave the port before exploding.’
    • ‘It turns out it was a World War Two training shell which had no explosives inside.’
    • ‘The enemy rained down explosives and incendiary bombs and then dumped barrels of oil onto the flames.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now Sam trained them to use explosives, to lay charges of dynamite and use rifles.’
    • ‘It was not immediately known whether the explosives had been planted in a car or a building.’
    • ‘It said one extremist was arrested and a cache of weapons, explosives and money was found.’
    bomb, incendiary device, incendiary, device
    View synonyms