Fun Etymology Tuesday – Explode

Hello everyone! It’s Tuesday again and that means another Fun Etymology fresh out of the oven!

Today’s word is “explode”.

This one is another fun example of how the meaning of a word can change drastically over the course of history.
“Explode” is another of the many words that come to English from Latin via Old French, and its original form “explodere” comes from the language of Roman theatre.

The word, formed of the two parts “ex-” (‘out’) and “-plaudere” (‘to clap or make noise’, with the ‘au’ diphthong reduced to ‘o’), literally meant “to chase a bad actor out of a theatre by making noise”. From there, it was borrowed into English in the 1500s with the meaning “to reject with scorn, chase away”, then “to expel with force”, and finally with the modern meaning of violent shattering or combustion.

So next time you are the unwilling witness of a very bad play, remember that you always have the option of exploding the actors out of the stage!

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