Vocabulary: So, What’s a ‘Molotov Cocktail’?


You may know that there have been violent protests in America for months now. You might also know from a previous post (where I used the word ‘self-centred’) about what I think of the people doing these protests – but that’s another story. What I’d like to do in this post is consider the strange word ‘Molotov Cocktail’ – because the protestors in America are using them quite regularly. So what is it? An interesting alcoholic drink? Ahhh …. not exactly.

A Molotov Cocktail a weapon, and it is based on the simplest parts: a bottle, a rag, and some petrol (or gasoline, as the Americans say). Here’s how you make one.

Step 1: you fill a bottle with petrol.

Step 2: you stuff a rag into the neck of the bottle.

Step 3: you set fire to the end of the rag.

Step 4: you (very quickly) throw the bottle at the target/enemy.

When the bottle hits a hard surface, such as a wall, a car, the ground, or a police shield, the bottle smashes open, releasing the petrol, which is immediately set alight by the burning rag beside it.

Molotov Cocktails are design to ignite – or burst into flame – rather than destroy targets or kill people. In other words, they cause fires and painful burn injuries, creating disorder and confusion among the enemy. This, as well as fact that they are so easy to make, means Molotov cocktails are a favourite weapon of violent protesters and rioters.

So that’s why you may see them being used in the protests happening right now in many American cities. But is throwing Mototov Cocktails at police actually a smart action to be taking? Hmmmmm…….

Here are some of the more difficult words I used in this post. Look them up in a dictionary to ensure you know what they mean.

To be violet

To protest

To be alcoholic

A rag

A target

An enemy

To ignite

A flame

A weapon

To riot