1530s, from L. explodere "drive out or off by clapping," originally theatrical, "to drive an actor off the stage by making noise," hence "drive out, reject" (a sense surviving in an exploded theory), from ex- "out" + plaudere "to clap, applaud," of uncertain origin. English used it to mean "drive out
with violence and sudden noise" (1650s), later, "go off with a loud noise" (Amer.Eng. 1790); sense of "to burst with destructive force" is first recorded 1882; of population, 1959. Related: Exploded; exploding.
verb (used without object)
1. to expand with force and noise because of rapid chemical change or decomposition, as gunpowder or nitroglycerine (opposed to implode).
2. to burst, fly into pieces, or break up violently with a loud report, as a boiler from excessive pressure of steam.
3. to burst forth violently or emotionally, especially with noise, laughter, violent speech, etc.: He exploded with rage when contradicted.
4. Phonetics . (of plosives) to terminate the occlusive phase with a plosion. Compare implode (def. 2) .
5. Golf . to play an explosion shot on a golf ball.
verb (used with object)
6. to cause (gunpowder, a boiler, etc.) to explode.
7. to cause to be rejected; destroy the repute of; discredit or disprove: to explode a theory.
8. Phonetics . to end with plosion.
9. Golf . to play an explosion shot on (a golf ball).
10. Obsolete . to drive (a player, play, etc.) from the stage by loud expressions of disapprobation.