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See also: blowup and blow-up




From Middle English blow up, blowe up, dissimilated forms of earlier Middle English upblowen (> English upblow), equivalent to blow +‎ up. Compare West Frisian opblaze (to blow up, inflate), Dutch opblazen (to blow up, inflate), German aufblähen and aufblasen (to blow up, inflate), Swedish blåsa upp (to blow up, inflate), Icelandic blása upp (to blow up, inflate), Gothic 𐌿𐍆𐌱𐌻𐌴𐍃𐌰𐌽 (ufblēsan, to blow or puff up).


blow up (third-person singular simple present blows up, present participle blowing up, simple past blew up, past participle blown up)

  1. (intransitive) To explode or be destroyed by explosion.
    Why do cars in movies always blow up when they fall off a cliff?
  2. (transitive) To cause (something or someone) to explode, or to destroy (something) or maim or kill (someone) by means of an explosion.
    We had to blow up the bridge before the enemy army arrived.
    More civilians than soldiers have been blown up by anti-personnel mines.
  3. (transitive) To inflate or fill with air, either by literally blowing or using an air pump.
    For the school science project, each student will blow up a balloon and then tie it closed.
  4. (transitive) To enlarge or zoom in.
    Blow up the picture to get a better look at their faces.
  5. (intransitive) To fail disastrously.
    • 2002, Joan Barfoot, Critical injuries, page 118:
      So I wish you luck, but don't come crying to me when it blows up in your face.
  6. (slang, intransitive) To become popular very quickly.
    This album is about to blow up; they’re being promoted on MTV.
    • 1999, Eminem, My Name Is (song)
      You know you blew up when the women rush your stands
      And try to touch your hands like some screaming Usher fans []
  7. (slang) To suddenly get very angry.
    Dad blew up at me when I told him I was pregnant.
  8. (slang, intransitive) To become much more fat or rotund in a short space of time.
  9. (transitive, dated) To inflate, as with pride, self-conceit, etc.; to puff up.
    to blow someone up with flattery
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      blown up with high conceits engendering pride
  10. (transitive, dated) To excite.
    to blow up a contention
  11. (transitive, dated) To scold violently.
    to blow up a person for some offence
    • (Can we date this quote?) George Eliot
      I have blown him up well — nobody can say I wink at what he does.
  12. (sports) To blow the whistle.
    ANOTHER PENALTY: Frickson Erazo with a high challenge in the area on the onrushing Lizio and Aguilar blows up for a spot kick. [1]
  13. (cycling) To succumb to the oxygen debt and lose the ability to maintain pace in a race.
  14. (slang, transitive) To bombard with a large number of telephone calls, texts, etc.
    • 2015, Kacey Musgraves
      They're blowing up our phones, asking where we are / Just say we're almost there; we ain't even in the car
  15. (slang, colloquial) To cause a malodorous smell by flatulation or defecation
    Don't go in there...I really blew it up.

Usage notesEdit

In senses 2, 3, and 4 the object may appear before or after the particle. If the object is a pronoun, then it must be before the particle.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.