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[guhn-pou-der] /ˈgʌnˌpaʊ dər/
an explosive mixture, as of potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal, used in shells and cartridges, in fireworks, for blasting, etc.
Also called gunpowder tea. a fine variety of green China tea, each leaf of which is rolled into a little ball.
Origin of gunpowder
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English; see gun1, powder1
Related forms
gunpowdery, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gunpowder
  • Invention of the stirrup may rival that of the longbow and gunpowder.
  • gunpowder could be used for a primitive form of internal combustion engine.
  • The brothers survived the frigid winters on plentiful game, waiting out the war until they ran out of gunpowder.
  • And yes, some of us made gunpowder and other explosives.
  • The enormous logs, too heavy to handle, are blasted into manageable dimensions with gunpowder.
  • She also found out where they had placed torpedoes, or barrels filled with gunpowder, in the water.
  • Some said he was fond of pouring gunpowder into his rum and setting it ablaze before downing it.
  • Perle seemed to exude the scent of liberation, as well as a whiff of gunpowder.
  • The bounty upon gunpowder exported, a drawback duties of the duties upon brimstone and saltpetre imported.
  • But a metaphor is no argument, though it be sometimes the gunpowder to drive one home and imbed it in the memory.
British Dictionary definitions for gunpowder


an explosive mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulphur (typical proportions are 75:15:10): used in time fuses, blasting, and fireworks Also called black powder
Derived Forms
gunpowdery, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gunpowder

early 15c., from gun (n.) + powder (n.). The Gunpowder Plot was the conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament on Nov. 5, 1605, while the King, Lords and Commons were assembled there.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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