Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[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
late Middle English word dating back to 1375-1425; See origin at gun1, powder1
Related forms
gunpowdery, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for gunpowder
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was out in a boat, and a bag of gunpowder he had with him exploded.

  • How is it obtained, and how is it purified for the manufacture of gunpowder?

    James Cutbush Edgar F. Smith
  • Next to playing with fire, I do not know anything so bad as playing with gunpowder.

  • Thirty thousand pounds of gunpowder were in that awful explosion.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • Had a lighted match dropped upon a pound of gunpowder, as he afterwards remarked, it could not have caused a greater recoil.

    Wanderings in South America Charles Waterton
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for gunpowder

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for gunpowder

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for gunpowder