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The car hit the dumpster with enough impact to set off/deploy the airbag.

Which of "set off" and "deploy" sounds more explosive? Is there anything else I could use instead to make it sound more explosive - as it is when an airbag goes off?

2 Answers 2

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It appears the most common words in this situation are deploy, inflate, activate and trigger.

Here is my evidence:

enter image description here

Inflate isn't a particularly "explosive" word, and doesn't really describe the bigger picture.

Deploy is a very "military" word, but an airbag is not a weapon. Deploy is certainly more dramatic than inflate, though, making it a better choice.

Activate and trigger are the most accurate words to describe the action done to the airbag and caused by the impact between the car and the dumpster. I think trigger is the most "explosive" out of all of these suggestions (one could actually trigger an explosion), but activate is also a perfect fit.

I suggest trigger.

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if you want onomatopoeia, I doubt that you will find any formal words that will do. Words to do with setting off weapons include 'fire':

the chip that then sends a signal to fire the airbag (Wikipedia)

or 'trigger':

trigger the airbag (Wording of US patent)

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