Definition of detonation in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌdetnˈāSH(ə)n/


1The action of causing a bomb or explosive device to explode.
Example sentences
  • There's a researcher out there - I used him a great deal for this piece and I'm using him some more, he knows at least five of the people who were involved in the making of the bomb and its detonation.
  • This material was used to blow up the Pan Am airplane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1987, and can also be used as the explosive charge in the detonation of a nuclear device.
  • Samizdata reminds us that on July 16, 1945, at Alamogordo, New Mexico, the Trinity test saw the Earth's first detonation of a nuclear device.
explosion, discharge, blowing up, ignition;
blast, bang, report
1.1A loud explosion: a series of deafening detonations was heard
More example sentences
  • Sir Stamford Raffles, the then British Lieutenant Governor of Java, reported a series of titanic detonations loud enough to be heard in Sumatra 1,600 kilometres away.
  • ‘The detonations perhaps will be louder than before,’ Svinarov said.
  • And just very late in the afternoon, just before sunset, there was a loud detonation not far from this hotel.
1.2 technical Combustion of a substance that is initiated suddenly and propagates extremely rapidly, giving rise to a shock wave. Compare with deflagration.
Example sentences
  • Who knows what kind of impact it would have if atomic detonation shockwave combined with lethal radiations combed through the world below them.
  • The instantaneous destruction of all molecules in a sample is known as detonation, and the rapid expansion of hot gases that results is what gives rise to the destructive blast.
  • This results in high pressure at the point of detonation, leading to the acceleration of gas molecules away from the explosion, a so called blast wind, the leading edge of which is the shock front.
1.3The premature combustion of fuel in an internal combustion engine, causing knocking.
Example sentences
  • Seeking larger expansion ratios, gasoline engine experts are improving combustion chamber shapes and fuel delivery so higher compression ratios can be tolerated without detonation.
  • To run an engine on unleaded fuel it may be necessary to retard the initial timing to prevent detonation and/or pre-ignition.
  • If PRISM could move the spark, control when peak pressures occurred and prevent detonation from progressing to pre-ignition, perhaps it could also handle lower-octane fuels.


Late 17th century: from French détonation, from the verb détoner, from Latin detonare 'thunder down' (see detonate).

  • Detonation comes via French from Latin detonare ‘thunder down’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: det·o·na·tion

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