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1. verb To destroy something through an explosion. They plan to blow up that old apartment building and replace it with shops and luxury condos.
2. verb To explode something. Our poor dog is hiding under the bed because our neighbors celebrate the Fourth of July by blowing up tons of fireworks.
3. verb To inflate. Can you help me blow up these balloons for the birthday party? I need to blow up one of my bike tires—it's a little flat right now.
4. verb To increase in size. If you can't read the text at this size, I can blow it up a little bit more. For my mom's birthday, I blew up that picture of our entire family at my graduation and gave it to her as a gift.
5. verb To lose one's temper in a display of anger. I'm sorry that I blew up at you like that—work is so frustrating right now that I have no patience left when I get home. Don't blow up at me—I didn't make that mistake!
6. verb To become very popular, often suddenly. I used to think I was the only one who liked that band, but they're really popular at my school now—it's like they blew up overnight.
7. verb To make something seem more important, negative, or significant than it really is; to exaggerate something or focus unnecessary attention on something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is often used between "blow" and "up." I'm sure he didn't mean anything by that comment—don't blow it up too much. Of course she's mad at me for not calling her back—you can always count on my mom to blow something up!
8. verb To begin suddenly, as of a storm or other windy weather condition. The storm blew up so quickly that I didn't have a chance to move the patio furniture before it started pouring rain.
9. verb To fail or fall apart. My plans of being productive this weekend blew up when I got really sick on Friday night.
10. verb, slang To receive a lot of phone calls or text messages in a short period of time. Usually used in the continuous tense. A: "Wow, you're really blowing up right now." B: "Ugh, it's just this stupid group text. The other people in it text each other every five seconds, which means I get notified each and every time!" The senator's phones were blowing up as his entire constituency began calling in to urge him to vote against the legislation.
11. noun An intense argument or disagreement. In this usage, the phrase is often written as one word. Our neighbors had a real blowup last night—we could hear them screaming at each other through the walls.
12. noun A larger version of something, such as a photo. In this usage, the phrase is often written as one word. For her birthday, I gave my mom a poster-size blowup of that picture of our entire family from my graduation.
13. noun A failure or collapse. In this usage, the phrase is often written as one word. The blowup of the management team was another big setback for the fledgling company.
Receiving a lot of phone calls or text messages in a short period of time. A: "Wow, you're really blowing up right now." B: "Ugh, it's just this stupid group text. The other people in it text each other every five seconds, which means I get notified each and every time!" The senator's phones were blowing up as his entire constituency began calling in to urge him to vote against the legislation.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
blow someone or something up
1. Lit. to destroy someone or something by explosion. The terrorists blew the building up at midday. They blew up the bridge.
2. Fig. to exaggerate something [good or bad] about someone or something. I hope no one blows the story up. The media always blows up reports of celebrity behavior. The press blew the story up unnecessarily.
blow something up
1. to inflate something. He didn't have enough breath to blow the balloon up. They all blew up their own balloons.
2. to have a photograph enlarged. How big can you blow this picture up? I will blow up this snapshot and frame it.
1. Lit. [for something] to explode. The bomb might have blown up if the children had tried to move it. The firecracker blew up.
2. Fig. to burst into anger. I just knew you'd blow up. So she blew up. Why should that affect you so much?
3. Fig. an angry outburst; a fight. (Usually blowup.) After the third blowup, she left him. One blowup after another from you. Control your temper!
4. Fig. an enlarged version of a photograph, map, chart, etc. (Usually blowup.) Here's a blowup of the scene of the crime. Kelly sent a blowup of their wedding picture to all her relatives.
5. Fig. the ruination of something; the collapse of something. (Usually blowup.) The blowup in the financial world has ruined my chances for early retirement. After the blowup at the company, the top managers called one another to compare notes.
6. Fig. to fall apart or get ruined. The whole project blew up. It will have to be canceled. All my planning was blown up this afternoon.
7. [for a storm] to arrive accompanied by the blowing of the wind. A terrible storm blew up while we were in the movie theater. I was afraid that a rainstorm was blowing up.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. 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]
2. 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]
3. Inflate, fill with air, as in If you don't blow up those tires you're sure to have a flat. [Early 1400s]
4. 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]
5. 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.
6. Collapse, fail, as in Graduate-student marriages often blow up soon after the couple earn their degrees. [Slang; mid-1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To destroy something or someone by explosion: The soldiers will blow the bridge up. The dynamite blew up the abandoned building.
2. To explode: I pressed the red button, and the bomb blew up.
3. To start suddenly and with force: A storm blew up as we were walking home.
4. To fill something with air or gas; inflate something: We need to blow up the tires of this old bicycle. The clown blew some balloons up for the kids to play with.
5. To increase the size or scale of an image of something, as for display or in order to view it more closely: We blew up the document to make a poster out of it. If we blow the photograph up we can see more detail.
6. To become very angry: My date blew up when I suggested we leave the party early.
7. To exaggerate something: Don't blow the story up into such a great disaster; it wasn't that bad. It may sound impressive, but I'm sure they're blowing up what really happened.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. in. to burst into anger. So she blew up. Why should that affect you so much?
2. n. an angry outburst; a fight. (Usually blowup.) After the third blowup, she left him.
3. n. an enlarged version of a photograph, map, chart, etc. (Usually blowup.) Kelly sent a blowup of their wedding picture to all her relatives.
4. n. the ruination of something; the collapse of something. (Usually blowup.) The blowup in the financial world has ruined my chances for early retirement.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.