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Origin of detonator

First recorded in 1815–25; detonate + -or2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for detonator


  1. a small amount of explosive, as in a percussion cap, used to initiate a larger explosion
  2. a device, such as an electrical generator, used to set off an explosion from a distance
  3. 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

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