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I'd like to know how to use the word "blast" when it means "explode".
For this purpose, I prepared some examples.


oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com:
(1) The jumbo jet was blasted out of the sky.

To me, "out of the sky" is an odd addition.
So, to understand its role, I'd like to consider the following sentences:

(2) The jumbo jet was blasted.
Is (2) correct?
If not, then why not?

(3) The jumbo jet was exploded out of the sky.
Is (3) correct?
If not, then why not?


Also, I came up with a couple more sentences by analogy with the previous ones:
(4) Terrorists blasted a car.
(5) Terrorists blasted a car out of the road.

Are (4) and (5) correct?
If not, then why not?

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    It wouldn't be idiomatic any of your examples, no. Removing the (theoretically optional) preposition-based adverbial clause in The plane was blown [out of the sky / to kingdom come / to bits] gives you a completely non-idiomatic "remnant". And that's likely to be the case with many verbs. Check the examples in a dictionary, until you get a feel for which verbs aren't normally used transitively / passively without an accompanying adverbial element. Nov 28, 2023 at 19:35
  • @FumbleFingers - I have a feeling that 'blasted' is somewhat relaxed and informal, like 'biffed' or 'smashed', except in certain fields, e.g. mining and quarrying. It's beloved of tabloid newspapers, where it can mean 'killed, damaged or destroyed by explosives' or 'severely criticised'. Mrs Whitehouse blasted the BBC's new series for it's 'indecency' and 'lack of respect for religion'. Nov 28, 2023 at 21:19
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    @MichaelHarvey: In Shakespeare's day it was quite a striking poetic / literary usage, defined by OED as Balefully or perniciously blown or breathed upon; stricken by meteoric or supernatural agency, as parching wind, lightning, an alleged malignant planet, the wrath and curse of heaven; blighted. Nov 29, 2023 at 2:32
  • @FumbleFingers - yes, I forgot about the blasted heath. Nov 29, 2023 at 9:52
  • "blasted out of the sky" is a perfectly idiomatic "rendition". "They blasted the mine for several hours before breaking through the
    – Lambie
    Nov 29, 2023 at 17:45

2 Answers 2

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Firstly, 'blast' does not mean 'explode'. Nor does "blasted out of the sky' necessarily mean that.

Consider the difference between 'blown' and 'blown up'. To blow something means to subject it to a force, such as a gust of air; to blow something up means to cause it to explode.

The word 'blast' alone has more in common with 'blow' - it refers to the sudden and violent exertion of a force, often the force caused by an explosion, but it is not the explosion itself. You might hear reports of people or things "caught in the blast" following an explosion, which just means they were subject to some of the force it caused.

It would be unusual to simply say a plane was "blasted". It doesn't tell us everything that happened. "Blasted out of the sky" tells us what happened to the plane as a result of the blast. Crucially, it does not necessarily mean that the plane itself exploded - just that a force caused it to crash. Not every plane that crashes explodes. "The plane exploded" would explicitly mean that the plane was blown into pieces from the inside out.

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    " It doesn't tell us everything that happened." Right: "out of the sky" makes it clear the plane was in the air at the time. This is the reason it is included. Planes are often not in the air.
    – Yorik
    Nov 28, 2023 at 20:58
  • You wrote "Crucially, it does not necessarily mean that the plane itself exploded - just that a force caused it to crash." In order for me to understand it, could you please give me an example of when the plane was blasted out of the sky but did not explode?
    – Loviii
    Nov 29, 2023 at 12:36
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    @Loviii "the plane was blasted out of the sky by the missile, causing it to crash into a mountain where it exploded on impact". You see, the force of the blast didn't cause it to explode, although it led to that. My point was that 'blasted' doesn't mean explode. Further, a missile exploding doesn't mean the plane exploded. Not every plane that crashes explodes. "The plane exploded" would explicitly mean that the plane was blown into pieces from the inside out.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 29, 2023 at 17:21
  • @Loviii A bomb can be exploded by people, passive. But a plane cannot be exploded by x, a passive.
    – Lambie
    Nov 29, 2023 at 17:50
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The word "blast" is about exerting a strong and sudden force. It has many different nuances depending on the context in which it is used.

In Merriam-Webster's entry, this usage corresponds to the second definition:

2a : to shatter by or as if by an explosive
blasting out nearly all of the building's windows
2b : to remove, open, or form by or as if by an explosive
blast a hole through the wall
blast away these barriers to progress —Elmer Davis
2c : SHOOT
The gunman blasted him down.

The usage of blast when the object is a vehicle comes closest to 2c: to shoot. You could blast a plane out of the sky with machine gun fire.

Usage (2) is fine, but feels incomplete.

Usage (3) is grammatically correct but not idiomatic. We would usually say "blown out of the sky" to mean something equivalent to what you're trying to convey.

Usage (4) is fine, but also feels incomplete. As FumbleFingers points out, the phrase seems to demand something like "blasted off the road" / "blasted to kingdom come" to finish it.

Usage (5) is not quite idiomatic. Because the road is a two dimensional surface and not a three dimensional area, we would say "Terrorists blasted a car off of the road."

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