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[det-n-ey-ter] /ˈdɛt nˌeɪ tər/
a device, as a percussion cap, used to make another substance explode.
something that explodes.
Origin of detonator
First recorded in 1815-25; detonate + -or2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for detonator
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now, what more could have done a detonator in the hands of the devil himself?

  • But this is only a single barrel, and an old-fashioned sort of detonator.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The entire man becomes a detonator, and he explodes in a violent hurricane of kicks, cuffs, and invective!

    In the Track of the Troops R.M. Ballantyne
  • It was to destroy itself; the Solarite would merely be the detonator to set it off!

    The Black Star Passes John W Campbell
  • In bitterness the fuse had been laid, the charge of passion was tamped, the detonator of spleen was in position.

    Berry And Co. Dornford Yates
  • The instant he brought the wires in contact, the detonator went off.

    Dynamite Stories Hudson Maxim
British Dictionary definitions for detonator


a small amount of explosive, as in a percussion cap, used to initiate a larger explosion
a device, such as an electrical generator, used to set off an explosion from a distance
a substance or object that explodes or is capable of exploding
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for detonator

1822, agent noun in Latin form from detonate. For suffix, see -er (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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