1. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Exploded

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Atari, Oct 5, 2009.

    Tenses confuse me a bit, because of past, present, future, past-perfect and such; however, no word confuses me as much as 'explode'.


    Things can explode, but can things BE exploded? Or, to rephrase:

    Can the word 'explode' be used as a synonym for 'blew up'?

    "I exploded my neighbor's house."


    I am under the impression that it can, but I know not where I heard it.


    Incidentally: If it cannot be used in such a manner, then what word can?

    I cannot think of any word that is synonymous with 'blew up'.
     
  2. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    There’s a difference, but I only know it instinctively. Look at this example:

    “I blew up the balloon until it was big and round.”

    “I exploded the balloon until it was big and round.”
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not really... you can say you, or the house/bomb/whatever exploded, but saying you 'exploded' something doesn't work...

    why don't you want to use 'blew up'?... you can use 'dynamited' if you want something different, and if dynamite is what was used...
     
  4. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    It is perfectly OK to use "explode" transitively as a synonym for "blow something up" (obviously not meaning inflate, but destroy), it's just a lot more formal and less common. For example:

    And a reference from answers.com to prove that it can be used transitively.

    EDIT: upon closer inspection the appropriate transitive use seems to be limited to things that release energy such as bombs, suns etc. That being said, I still don't see anything wrong with "I exploded the building" or whatever.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to disagree...

    bomb squads don't 'explode' the bomb... they 'detonate' it, so that it will 'explode'... 'explode' only refers to the result, not any action taken to cause the explosion...

    in re common usage, but not necessarily strict grammar rules [if there are any covering this specific point], i'd have to disagree with that dictionary.com reference you quoted, as well... the children may have 'set off' or 'detonated' firecrackers, but only the firecrackers themselves could have 'exploded'...

    an angry person may 'explode'... but i don't see how one can 'explode' a hypothesis... or a building, either...

    regardless, it all comes down to what one can get away with, in one's writings... an editor may see things my way... or not...
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think the use of exploded as a transitive verb has trickled into common use sufficiently that, like it or not, we have to acknowledge that it isn't going away.

    I personally believe it's a weak verb choice in that context, but I've seen far worse acts of verbicide.
     
  7. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    This reminds me with my old anger at the word "as."

    Frankly, "exploded" sounds like its going to give you trouble even when you learn when and how to use it. My advice, since I'm not sure about the answer, is to avoid using words that confuse you as the writer.

    For example, back with "as" :

    "As he rounded the corner, Mark saw the ghost."

    When the heck did he see the ghost? Right before he completely rounded it? In the middle? At the end? So, this is where I stick with: "He rounded the corner and saw the ghost."

    A little off topic, I know, but just an example of avoiding using words whose meaning(s) and usage confuses you or me for that matter.
     

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