AskDefine | Define dynamite

Dictionary Definition

dynamite n : an explosive containing nitrate sensitized with nitroglycerin absorbed on wood pulp v : blow up with dynamite; "The rock was dynamited"

User Contributed Dictionary



Coined by Nobel, the inventor.


  1. A class of explosives made from nitroglycerine in an absorbent medium such as kieselguhr, used in mining and blasting; invented by Alfred Nobel in 1867.
  2. Anything exceptionally dangerous, exciting or wonderful.



class of explosives
  • German: Dynamit
  • Japanese: ダイナマイト
  • Polish: dynamit
  • German: Sprengstoff


  1. To blow up with dynamite or other high explosive.


to blow up with dynamite or other high explosive
  • French: dynamiter
  • Spanish: dinamitar

See also

Extensive Definition

Dynamite is an explosive based on the explosive potential of nitroglycerin, initially using diatomaceous earth (kieselgur: US Spelling; kieselguhr: UK Spelling) or another absorbent substance such as sawdust as an adsorbent. It was invented by Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel in 1866 in Krümmel (Geesthacht, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany); and patented in 1867.
It is usually sold in the form of a stick 20 centimetres (roughly 8 in) long and 2.5 centimetres (1 in) in diameter, but other sizes also exist. Dynamite is considered a high explosive, which means it detonates rather than deflagrates.
Another form of dynamite consists of nitroglycerin dissolved in nitrocellulose and a small amount of ketone. This form of dynamite is similar to cordite. This form of dynamite is much safer than the simple mix of nitroglycerin and diatomaceous earth/kieselgur.


Dynamite is predominantly used in the mining, quarrying, and construction industries and has had historical use in warfare, but its unstable nature, especially if subjected to freezing, has rendered it obsolete for modern military use. Dynamite has been replaced for combat purposes by military dynamite, a mixture of TNT, RDX, inert binders and anti-freeze agents. Military dynamite has approximately 60% of the strength of nitroglycerin-based, commercial dynamite.


Dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel and was the first safely manageable explosive stronger than black powder. Nobel obtained patents for his invention: in England on 7 May 1867; and in Sweden on 19 October 1867. He originally sold dynamite as "Nobel's Blasting Powder". After its introduction, dynamite rapidly gained popularity as a safe alternative to gunpowder and nitroglycerin. Nobel tightly controlled the patent, and unlicensed duplicators were quickly shut down. However, a few United States businessmen got around the patent by using a slightly different formula.


Dynamite consists of three parts nitroglycerin, one part diatomaceous earth and a small admixture of sodium carbonate. This mixture is formed into short sticks and wrapped in paper. Nitroglycerin by itself is a very strong explosive, and in its pure form it is shock-sensitive (physical shock can cause it to explode), degrading over time to even more unstable forms. This makes it highly dangerous to transport or use in its pure form. Adsorbed onto diatomaceous earth, nitroglycerin is less shock-sensitive.
Over time, the dynamite will "weep" or "sweat" its nitroglycerin, which can then pool in the bottom of the box or storage area. Crystals will form on the outside of the sticks. This creates a very dangerous situation. While the actual possibility of explosion without a blasting cap is minimal, old dynamite is still dangerous.

South Africa

For several decades from the 1940s, the biggest producer of dynamite in the world was the Republic of South Africa, where De Beers established a factory in 1902 at Somerset West. The explosives factory was later operated by AECI (African Explosives and Chemical Industries). The demand for the product came mainly from the country's vast gold mines, centered on the Witwatersrand. The factory at Somerset West was in operation in 1903 and by 1907 was already producing 340,000 cases (22 kilograms (50 lb) each) annually. In addition, a rival factory at Modderfontein was producing another 200,000 cases per year.
One of the drawbacks of dynamite was that it was dangerous to manufacture. There were two massive explosions at the Somerset West plant in the 1960s. Some workers died, but loss of life was limited by the modular design of the factory and earth works and plantations of trees that directed the blasts upwards. After 1985, production of dynamite at the factory was phased out.


In the United States, in 1885, chemist Russell S. Penniman invented ammonia dynamite, a form which utilized ammonium nitrate in addition to the more costly nitroglycerin. These dynamites were marketed with the trade name, "Extra." Ammonium nitrate has 85% of the energy of "straight" nitroglycerin. Dynamite was manufactured by the E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc. until the mid-1970s. Other US dynamite makers of the era included Hercules, Atlas, Trojan-US Powder, Austin, and several other smaller firms. Dynamite was eventually phased out in favor of water gel explosives, which is cheaper to manufacture and in many ways safer to handle.

Difference from TNT

It is a common misconception that TNT and dynamite are the same thing. Though both are high explosives, there is no other similarity between them. Where dynamite is an absorbent mixture soaked in nitroglycerin, then compacted into a cylindrical shape and wrapped in paper, TNT is a specific chemical compound called trinitrotoluene.

Popular culture

  • The familiar thin reddish cylinder, equipped with a fuse or blasting cap, is a stock movie prop. In comedies and cartoons, dynamite commonly explodes with the only effect being a blackened face and wild hair. In dramas, the impending explosion of lit dynamite parcels provides movie tension. In action films, dynamite is often used as a weapon.
  • The explosiveness of dynamite has caused expressions such as saying that "such and such" an issue "is dynamite" or "political dynamite" (e.g.


  • , Improved explosive compound
  • , Explosive priming device




  • Cartwright, A. P. (1964). The Dynamite Company: The Story of African Explosives and Chemical Industries Limited. Cape Town: Purnell & Sons (S.A.) (Pty) Ltd.
  • Schück, H. and Sohlman, R.(1929). The Life of Alfred Nobel. London: William Heinemann Ltd.
dynamite in Afrikaans: Dinamiet
dynamite in Bosnian: Dinamit
dynamite in Breton: Dinamit
dynamite in Bulgarian: Динамит
dynamite in Catalan: Dinamita
dynamite in Czech: Dynamit
dynamite in Danish: Dynamit
dynamite in German: Dynamit
dynamite in Spanish: Dinamita
dynamite in Esperanto: Dinamito
dynamite in French: Dynamite
dynamite in Korean: 다이너마이트
dynamite in Croatian: Dinamit
dynamite in Indonesian: Dinamit
dynamite in Italian: Dinamite
dynamite in Hebrew: דינמיט
dynamite in Latvian: Dinamīts
dynamite in Lithuanian: Dinamitas
dynamite in Hungarian: Dinamit
dynamite in Macedonian: Динамит
dynamite in Malayalam: ഡൈനാമിറ്റ്
dynamite in Dutch: Dynamiet
dynamite in Japanese: ダイナマイト
dynamite in Norwegian: Dynamitt
dynamite in Polish: Dynamit
dynamite in Portuguese: Dinamite
dynamite in Romanian: Dinamită
dynamite in Russian: Динамит
dynamite in Albanian: Dinamiti
dynamite in Simple English: Dynamite
dynamite in Slovenian: Dinamit
dynamite in Serbian: Dinamit
dynamite in Sundanese: Dinamit
dynamite in Finnish: Dynamiitti
dynamite in Swedish: Dynamit
dynamite in Thai: ไดนาไมต์
dynamite in Vietnamese: Dynamit
dynamite in Turkish: Dinamit
dynamite in Ukrainian: Динаміт
dynamite in Chinese: 代納邁
dynamite in Slovak: Dynamit

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ballistite, TNT, annihilate, cellulose nitrate, cordite, decimate, demolish, dismantle, dissolve, explosive, gunpowder, high explosive, melinite, nitrocotton, nitroglycerin, plastic explosive, powder, raze, ruin, shatter, smokeless powder, trinitrotoluol, villanous saltpetre
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1