Nearby words

  1. blouse,
  2. blouson,
  3. blousy,
  4. bloviate,
  5. bloviation,
  6. blow a fuse,
  7. blow away,
  8. blow by blow,
  9. blow down,
  10. blow fly


Origin of blow

before 1000; Middle English blowen (v.), Old English blāwan; cognate with Latin flāre to blow


[ bloh-uhp ]
/ ˈbloʊˌʌp /


an explosion.
a violent argument, outburst of temper, or the like, especially one resulting in estrangement.
Also blow-up. an enlargement of a photograph.

Origin of blowup

First recorded in 1800–10; noun use of verb phrase blow up Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for blow up

blow up

verb (adverb)

noun blow-up


/ (bləʊ) /

verb blows, blowing, blew or blown


Word Origin for blow

Old English blāwan, related to Old Norse blǣr gust of wind, Old High German blāen, Latin flāre


/ (bləʊ) /


a powerful or heavy stroke with the fist, a weapon, etc
at one blow or at a blow by or with only one action; all at one time
a sudden setback; unfortunate eventto come as a blow
come to blows
  1. to fight
  2. to result in a fight
an attacking actiona blow for freedom
Australian and NZ a stroke of the shears in sheep-shearing

Word Origin for blow

C15: probably of Germanic origin; compare Old High German bliuwan to beat


/ (bləʊ) /

verb blows, blowing, blew or blown

(intr) (of a plant or flower) to blossom or open out
(tr) to produce (flowers)


a mass of blossoms
the state or period of blossoming (esp in the phrase in full blow)

Word Origin for blow

Old English blōwan; related to Old Frisian blōia to bloom, Old High German bluoen, Latin flōs flower; see bloom 1

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

Word Origin and History for blow up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with blow up

blow up


Explode or cause to explode. For example, The squadron was told to blow up the bridge, or Jim was afraid his experiment would blow up the lab. The term is sometimes amplified, as in blow up in one's face. [Late 1500s]


Lose one's temper, as in I'm sorry I blew up at you. Mark Twain used this metaphor for an actual explosion in one of his letters (1871): “Redpath tells me to blow up. Here goes!” [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]


Inflate, fill with air, as in If you don't blow up those tires you're sure to have a flat. [Early 1400s]


Enlarge, especially a photograph, as in If we blow up this picture, you'll be able to make out the expressions on their faces. [c. 1930]


Exaggerate the importance of something or someone, as in Tom has a tendency to blow up his own role in the affair. This term applies the “inflate” of def. 3 to importance. It was used in this sense in England from the early 1500s to the 1700s, but then became obsolete there although it remains current in America.


Collapse, fail, as in Graduate-student marriages often blow up soon after the couple earn their degrees. [Slang; mid-1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with blow

  • blow a fuse
  • blow away
  • blow by blow
  • blow hot and cold
  • blow in
  • blow it
  • blow off
  • blow off steam
  • blow one's brains out
  • blow one's cool
  • blow one's cover
  • blow one's mind
  • blow one's own horn
  • blow one's top
  • blow out
  • blow over
  • blow sky-high
  • blow someone to
  • blow the lid off
  • blow the whistle on
  • blow up

also see:

  • at one stroke (blow)
  • body blow
  • come to blows
  • keep (blow) one's cool
  • low blow
  • way the wind blows
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.