Blown to Smithereens

Meanings of “Blown to Smithereens”

The phrase ‘blown to smithereens’ usually means blowing something into pieces and tearing things apart. The pieces would have been turned into tiny fragments that cannot be fixed. It often happens in wars during explosions that throw remains and pieces of things or human bodies far away.

Origin of “Blown to Smithereens”

The phrase “blown to smithereens” despite having various derivatives is stated to have been first used by Francis Plowden in his The History of Ireland, which was published in 1801. It has been used there as “we will break your carriage in smithereens.” Later it has evolved into “blown into smithereens.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Reggae Fi Radni by Linton Kwesi Johnson

But look how me dream come jus’ get blown to smithereen
came blown to smithereen ina de miggle of the dream
Miggle of the dream before de peeple dem come in
peeple dem come in, the peeple dem come in
So me say that Walter Radni was no shark fi de sea 

The phrase tells about the dreams of the singer that he saw turn into pieces. He begins to speak non-sensical and cryptic words instead of complete words to show his frustration. The words are also spelled in the dialect of the African-American language. The destruction of his dreams has indeed destroyed his peace and sanity.

Example #2

Smithereens by Anthony Raneri

Any god that don’t work on Sunday
Ain’t no god that could work for me
You take what was written with man’s hands
How’d you know that was what he means?

How could you know anymore than me?
And if we let you go
You’ll blow the goddamn world to smithereens

The singer believes that the modern world has robbed words of their meanings. So, he, too, has lost his belief in God. He means that if he permits his friends, they will destroy his little world of imaginations. He also expresses his anger. He continues to tell that God doesn’t care and will blow the world into pieces if people don’t go to a place of devotion on Sunday.

Example #3

Why Rattlesnakes Rattle: … And 250 Other Things You Should Know by Valeri R. Helterbran

A smithereen is a splintered or fractured piece or bit of something. The term is first found in print in 1829 spelled as smiddereens. Used almost exclusively in plural form, it is almost certainly taken the Gaelic (Irish) smidirin translation as “small bit or fragment.” To blow something to smithereens usually implies some sort of blast or explosion.

This is a good explanation of the origin of smithereens and this phrase. According to the author, smithereens are pieces from a broken object. It is mostly used in wars during explosions. That is why ‘blown’ is used with this word to create this phrase.

Example #4

Divorcing Jack by By Colin Bateman

The first story I ever wrote for the Evening News began with lines: “Of the twenty-three soldiers blown to smithereens in Crossmaheart on Saint Valentine’s Day, three are still alive.”

It took an irate schoolteacher to point out to our editor on the phone that the soldiers blown to smithereens could not expect to enjoy the benefits of breathing, even if they were as resilient as paratroopers.

This excerpt tells us about the wrong news of the soldiers killed during a battle in an explosion. The phrase has been used twice; once to tell the news and second to clarify that if the soldiers were blown or exploded in the bombing, they can’t be alive.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “At least three the soldiers were blown to smithereens when they came across a blast site.”

Example #2: “Horatio’s heart was blown into smithereens when Sheena rejected his wedding proposal.”

Example #3: “The earthquake caused the new building blown to smithereens. The engineers declared that the construction was weak.”

Example #4: “You will not be blown into smithereens for lighting a simple firecracker.”

Example #5: “Terry always woke up from the same nightmare after the accident. He saw a car blown into smithereens. Now, he is afraid of sitting in a car too.”