a device, as a percussion cap, used to make another substance explode.
something that explodes.

1815–25; detonate + -or2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
detonator (ˈdɛtəˌneɪtə)
1.  a small amount of explosive, as in a percussion cap, used to initiate a larger explosion
2.  a device, such as an electrical generator, used to set off an explosion from a distance
3.  a substance or object that explodes or is capable of exploding

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1822, agent noun in Latin form from detonate. For suffix, see -er (1).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


device that initiates the detonation of a charge of a high explosive by subjecting it to percussion by a shock wave. In strict usage, the term detonator refers to an easily ignited low explosive that produces the shock wave, and the term primer, or priming composition, denotes a substance that produces a sudden burst of flame to ignite the detonator. The primer may be set off by the brief application of heat (from a burning fuse or an electrically heated wire), by friction, or by mechanical shock (like the impact of the firing pin of a gun)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
For imaging experiments to work, the laser's shutter will have to be faster
  than its detonator.
Electric blasting cap means a detonator designed for and capable of being
  initiated by means of an electric current.
Blasting cap or cap when used in connection with the subject of explosives
  shall mean detonator.
Detonator leg wires must be shunted until connection is made into the blasting
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