Volcanos in Colombia, Literal and Figurative

In Colombia and Latin America, we are experiencing a few eruptions right now.  Mexico is dealing with Popocatepetl located close to Mexico City.  Meanwhile Colombia is facing the rumblings of Nevado de Ruiz. Nevado de Ruiz has been causing problems for a few weeks now, and the language used to describe the volcano is rich with literal and figurative uses — erupt, explode, blow up, rumble... the list of colorful verbs goes on.

Volcano movie

Why do we use so much volcano vocabulary? Volcanos are very powerful forces in nature.  According to the above movie they could destroy the world.  Some say they did — the world of the dinosaurs was destroyed by volcanos according to some research. Volcanos are so powerful they have been thought to be the homes of gods.  A humerous movie with Tom Hanks captures this idea in Joe versus the Volcano. Volcanos are violent and unpredictable so volcano vocabulary is often related to angry actions.  So what volcano-related words and phrases can we use?

Rumble  – LITERALLY a deep, heavy, somewhat muffled, continuous sound [ruido sordo, el ruido de volcan]

The volcano rumbled ominously as they approached.

FIGURATIVELY a widespread murmur of discontent [murmullo de quejas]

The CEO noted there had been rumblings among the personnel about the change in coffee brands.

Barney Belches, The Simpsons

Barney belches because of beer.

Belch – to emit contents violently or spasmodically [eructar]

The volcano belched ash and sulferous gases into the air.

The boy belched loudly after drinking the Coca Cola.

Spew / vomit – to send or be sent out in a stream, sometimes in disgust or anger [vomitar, arrojar]

The volcano spewed lava through the night.

The angry words spewed from the employee without thought.

Erupt – to eject or burst forth suddenly and violently, as from restraint [entrar en erupción, estallar]

The volcano erupted without warning, covering Pompey in lava.

All of a sudden Mark Cuban erupted and began yelling at the referee.

Blow up / Explode – LITERALLY to burst, fly into pieces, break up violently with a loud report or noise [hacer explotar]

FIGURATIVELY to burst forth violently or emotionally, especially with noise,laughter, violent speech [explotar, estallar]

The volcano exploded like a bomb.

The boss blew up when he learned his employees were stealing.

Blow One's Top

Uh oh. He is blowing his top!

Blow one’s top / blow one’s stack – LITERALLY explode [hacer explotar]

FIGURATIVELY go crazy with rage, lose one’s composure, become insane [cabrearse, enfadarse muchisimo]

Here’s a great article by AOL News using ‘blow’s one’s top’ in relation to an unexpected action by a flight attendant.

People describe Steven Slater as a nice guy, but yesterday the flight attendant for JetBlue apparently totally lost control following an argument with a passenger.

Slater was working on a flight from Pittsburgh that had landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, when he was hit on the head by a bag a passenger was pulling out early from an overhead compartment.

According to the New York Daily News, words were exchanged and Slater’s reaction was to blow his top. He spewed profanity at stunned passengers, grabbed a beer and activated the plane’s emergency slide, then bolted off the plane.

Passengers told the News as part of his rant, Slater, 38, said he planned to quit the airline.

A JetBlue co-worker who was on the flight, calls Slater a working-class hero.

“It’s something we all fantasize about,” she tells the newspaper. “But we have kids and a mortgage or are just too chicken – or sane – to go through with [it].”

Ready to blow up because English is too hard? Don’t blow your stack, contact Bogota Business English to help you learn English without the frustration!

Use this new vocabulary here in the comments or on our Facebook page or Twitter.

Original definitions provided by Dictionary.com


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