An explosive is a substance that can be made to explode by being hit or lit on fire. You might use an explosive to create a tunnel through a mountain — but you probably shouldn't use one to clear weeds from your yard.

Explosives contain highly reactive chemicals that are full of potential energy, which can be released with a bang. You can also use the word explosive as an adjective, to describe such substances or anything else that is dramatic, abrupt, or loud. You might say that your brother has an explosive temper sometimes, or that your snow shoveling business has seen explosive growth this winter. The Latin root is explodere, "drive out."

Definitions of explosive
  1. noun
    a chemical substance that undergoes a rapid chemical change (with the production of gas) on being heated or struck
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    burster, bursting charge, charge, explosive charge
    a quantity of explosive to be set off at one time
    explosive compound
    a compound that is explosive
    explosive mixture
    a mixture that is explosive
    impulse explosive, propellant explosive
    an explosive that is used to propel projectiles from guns or to propel rockets and missiles or to launch torpedos and depth charges
    load, payload, warhead
    the front part of a guided missile or rocket or torpedo that carries the nuclear or explosive charge or the chemical or biological agents
    HN, azoimide, hydrazoic acid, hydrogen azide
    a colorless explosive liquid that is volatile and poisonous and foul-smelling
    high explosive
    a powerful chemical explosive that produces gas at a very high rate
    low explosive
    an explosive with a low rate of combustion
    gunpowder, powder
    a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in a 75:15:10 ratio which is used in gunnery, time fuses, and fireworks
    Ballistite, smokeless powder
    an explosive (trade name Ballistite) that burns with relatively little smoke; contains pyrocellulose and is used as a propellant
    nitramine, tetryl
    a yellow crystalline explosive solid that is used in detonators
    atomic warhead, nuclear warhead, nuke, thermonuclear warhead
    the warhead of a missile designed to deliver an atom bomb
    blasting gelatin
    mixture of guncotton with nitroglycerin
    explosive powder (nitroglycerin and guncotton and petrolatum) dissolved in acetone and dried and extruded in brown cords
    bursting explosive, disrupting explosive
    a high explosive that is used to damage the target that is under attack
    an explosive containing nitrate sensitized with nitroglycerin absorbed on wood pulp
    firework, pyrotechnic
    (usually plural) a device with an explosive that burns at a low rate and with colored flames; can be used to illuminate areas or send signals etc.
    plastic explosive, plastique
    an explosive material that is easily molded around the object it is intended to destroy
    an explosive charge used in blasting
    TNT, trinitrotoluene
    explosive consisting of a yellow crystalline compound that is a flammable toxic derivative of toluene
    an insufficient charge
    rocket fuel, rocket propellant, rocket propellent
    an explosive charge that propels a rocket
    type of:
    chemical, chemical substance
    material produced by or used in a reaction involving changes in atoms or molecules
  2. adjective
    serving to explode or characterized by explosion or sudden outburst
    “an explosive device”
    explosive gas”
    explosive force”
    explosive violence”
    “an explosive temper”
    exploding almost instantaneously
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    not explosive
  3. adjective
    sudden and loud
    “an explosive laugh”
    happening without warning or in a short space of time
  4. adjective
    liable to lead to sudden change or violence
    “an explosive issue”
    synonyms: volatile
    lacking stability or fixity or firmness
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘explosive'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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