powder keg

a small, metal, barrellike container for gunpowder or blasting powder.
a potentially dangerous situation, especially one involving violent repercussions.


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World English Dictionary
powder keg
1.  a small barrel used to hold gunpowder
2.  informal a potential source or scene of violence, disaster, etc

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
He symbolizes the seething mood of a country that the film suggests is a powder
  keg of discontent and alienation.
Being an artilleryman, he designed a military missile that carried a small
  powder keg in its nose.
Yet the country is also often considered a powder keg.
In bad times, the tight ethnic jumble of the city can be a powder keg.
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