|Definition - A speech sound made by using the tongue or the lips to completely block the air-stream and then letting the air burst out after a brief delay, e.g. the [t] in tea and the [b] in bee.|
Etymology - The term was coined by contracting the word explosive.
Oxford English Dictionary - Its first citation is from 1899:
"The passage may be completely closed. The breath is stopped for a moment…; but then it bursts through the obstacle with a little explosion. The result is a (voiced or voiceless) stop (or plosive or explosive)."
(W. Rippmann tr. Vietor's Elem. Phonetics 12)