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Normally, we say "I splashed water".

And, I am sure we can say "I splashed mud" but not sure with other things.

My question is that:

can we splash things that are not water such as snow/sand/dirt/flour/etc?

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    You can just about splash mud around, but that's about as far away from "liquid" as you can get with splash or spray. You can spatter things that aren't even "wet" (such as dry pellets of something, but most things / substances that can be splashed, sprayed, or spattered are essentially liquids. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 15:54
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    I would say you can use splash with "snow", "sand", "dirt" in very special cases. ie did you see the snow splash up when the avalanche hit that rock face? replace snow with sand or dirt depending on the nature of the avalanche/land slide. However one could argue that these solid substances are acting like a fluid when when they are part of an avalanche/landslide.
    – Forward Ed
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 3:49

4 Answers 4

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I don't think you should use splash for things that aren't liquid or like a liquid. You might look at other verbs, like scatter, strew, sprinkle, spill, or spread. Some other words that are usually used for liquids, like pour and spray, can be used with non-liquids, like sand.

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  • In Vietnamese, "splash" can be used for water or sand/ flour/snow....
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 15:32
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    @Tom There is no snow in Vietnam. splash is only for liquids. Sprinkle saw dust on the floor. In cooking, splash used sparingly but used: a splash of vanilla.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 15:44
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    The English word splash involves a liquid component. Words like it in other languages may not require the liquid. The English word spray, though it can be and usually is used with liquids, does not require them -- you can spray dust, sand, dirt, or any other substance with appropriate granularity as well as liquids. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 16:41
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    @Lambie What's the relevance of whether there's snow in Vietnam?
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 16:55
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    @gotube One can say anything at all. Is it at all relevant to even mention other languages? I don't see the relevance. Sand, dust and dirt can also be sprinkled.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 17:22
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Yes, they can.

I'm going to contest some of the other answers, and say that solid objects can splash, when they move in a liquid fashion. This is usually associated with an impact with a lot of force, which causes the material to splash out like a rock hitting a pool of water.

For instance, a bomb going off might cause a sand dune to splash. A meteor hitting the ground might cause rock to splash, forming a crater. A plane crashing into a building might cause both to splash.

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    Crater Formation Demo - it's called ejecta, and it's getting splashed, +1. - MW, 1b : "to move in or into a liquid or semiliquid substance and cause it to spatter" At a high enough impact velocity, solids will behave like liquids, and an aggregate of solids even more readily.
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 20:14
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    If it's in a temporary liquid state, it's a liquid. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 0:06
  • I agree. If dry flour can't be splashed, what would you call it when you drop a cup in the flour container and flour goes everywhere?
    – Peter
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 13:39
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No, "splash" is used for liquids.

With semi-liquids like mud I would prefer the verb "splatter," unless the mud is very watery.

Some substances, like flour and sand, sometimes exhibit liquid-like properties and can be described as such. For example, depending on the context, you can say you are "pouring" sand and flour and perhaps even dirt (although "dumping" would be more likely).

But you cannot "splash" sand or snow or dirt.

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    Try a image search for 'flour splash' and you will see it is a reasonably common term and that none of your alternatives describe what the images show, e.g. gettyimages.co.uk/detail/photo/… is definitely a splash, not a splatter (no liquid, not sticky) not pouring (going up not down in a stream) not dumping (again, moving up not down) Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 8:48
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I look at the noun form and that is a sound. If it makes the splash sound when something in motion comes in contact with it, then it can be splashed.

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  • The linguistic term for this is onomatopoeia. And yes, I agree that "splash" is most likely originally onomatopoeic, and is still recognizable as such by most English speakers, even though it can sometimes be used figuratively or by analogy even for things that don't actually make a "splash" sound. (FWIW, etymonline traces it back to an earlier form "plash", which it describes as "probably imitative".) Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 20:24

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