blow up

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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).


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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
  10. (transitive, dated) To excite.
    to blow up a contention
  11. (transitive, dated) To scold violently.
    • 1807, The Port Folio (page 313)
      [] did not choose to comply with her wishes. Upon which Mrs. Basset, in the language of the Old Bailey, nabbed the rust; insisted upon some liquor, would not quit the house without it, and began to blow up the hostess and blast the rose.
    • 1871, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter 13, in Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, volume I, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 948783829, book II (Old and Young):
      I have blown him up well — nobody can say I wink at what he does.
  12. (sports) To blow the whistle.
  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.
    • 2007, DZ (lyrics), “Fucc & Git Up”, in Sleepless City Livin, performed by DZ feat. Gangsta Nutt, from 1:59:
      I am the man
      So I’m sitting in the VIP
      with my mains
      We twisted up some Crip
      but I am ready to dip
      to the telly with my relly
      cuz these fuckin git up chicks keep blowin up my celly.
      aːm ðə meɪ̯n
      soʊ̯ aːm sɪtɪn ɪn ðə vɪp
      wɪθ maː meɪ̯ns
      wiː twɪstəd ʌp sʊm kɹɪp
      bʌt aːm ɹɛdi tu dɪp
      tʊ ðə tɛli wɪθ maː ɹɛli
      kʌz ðiːz fʌkɪn gɪt ʌp t͡ʃɪks kiːp blowɪn ʌp maː sɛli
    • 2009, RM Johnson, Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit, →ISBN:
      Don't let them sabotage a possible good thing by blowing up your phone while you're in the middle of a hot date with nonsense like, “Jason keeps asking for a Popsicle before bed. Do you think it's okay that I give him one?”
    • 2011, Jaime Reed, Living Violet, →ISBN, page 67:
      Dad sure knew how to kill a mood. He had blown up my phone all day, ensuring that I didn't back out of our agreement.
    • 2012, Chris Hicks, Ebony Chronicles of Elevation, volume 1, →ISBN, page 181:
      Not knowing the whereabouts of his daughter, Tavon blew up her phone without once getting a response.
    • 2013, Michelle McKinney Hammond, The Real Deal on Love and Men, →ISBN:
      He has never officially said that we are in a relationship, but he blows up my phone night and day, always wanting to know where I am.
    • 2014 September 11, Alexis Petridis, quoting Kelly Brook, “A freedom fighter for our time: Kelly Brook will not be silenced over Danny Cipriani”, in The Guardian[1]:
      “Danny Cipriani is blowing up my phone saying: ‘I’m going to sue you’,” she said, shortly before announcing her willingness to go to prison over the issue.
    • 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 notes[edit]

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 terms[edit]


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.