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A child with bloodied clothing lies in a hospital, unable to move because her legs have been blown off. CNN

What does "her legs have been blown off" mean?

Does it describe the way how her legs have been damaged? Does it mean an explosion or shooting? Or does it refer to the current state of her legs? Does it mean she lost her legs or that she has burns on her legs?

Edit: Related, therefore I will amend my question.

In the same article it is also said:

We have pictures of children under the age of 14 with half of their faces blown away, [...]

In my understanding, to blow away means to kill someone.

In this context it sounds a bit different. Is it the same meaning as the answers given for to blow off mention? (Here: to lose a part of the face.)

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Definition for blow off: (Web definitions) come off due to an explosion or other strong force. [wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=blow%20off ] –  Kris Feb 8 '12 at 10:50
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closed as general reference by Kris, Matt Эллен, RegDwigнt Feb 8 '12 at 11:43

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's this meaning of blow off:

(transitive) To shoot something with a gun, causing it to come disconnected.

Her leg was blown off by a landmine.

Therefore, in your example the child has no legs because they have been disconnected from her body by an explosion of which the cause isn't mentioned. It might have been gas exploding or a terrorist attack for all we know (from the line you presented).

EDIT: Blow away in the second example you presented has the same meaning as the first example: a part of their face was torn off by an explosion.

Think of it like this: you can blow away dust from a book the same way you can blow away a part of someone's face with an explosion. Alternatively, you can tear off a price tag from your t-shirt the same way you can tear/blow off someone's hand with an explosion.

The latter implies the object being disconnected is somehow connected to its host to begin with. The former implies it's simply "on it."

This distinction isn't strict, but you can remember it like this and you should be safe.

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Thanks. This answers my question. But I amended my question, since there is a related question. Could you please give some additional explanation. I'm sorry for inconvenience. –  Em1 Feb 8 '12 at 11:12
    
@Em1: edited! hope that helps ... –  RiMMER Feb 8 '12 at 11:23
    
It helps very much. Good explanation. Your nice examples make the somehow indefinite difference clear to me. Thumbs up. –  Em1 Feb 8 '12 at 11:33
    
Isn't it the latter instead of the later, is it? –  Em1 Feb 8 '12 at 11:36
    
@Em1: it is, sorry, fixed it! –  RiMMER Feb 8 '12 at 11:37
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to come off due to an explosion or other strong force

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