Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[pou-der] /ˈpaʊ dər/
any solid substance reduced to a state of fine, loose particles by crushing, grinding, disintegration, etc.
a preparation in this form, as gunpowder or face powder.
Also, powder snow. Skiing. loose, usually fresh snow that is not granular, wet, or packed.
verb (used with object)
to reduce to powder; pulverize.
to sprinkle or cover with powder:
She powdered the cookies with confectioners' sugar.
to apply powder to (the face, skin, etc.) as a cosmetic.
to sprinkle or strew as if with powder:
A light snowfall powdered the landscape.
to ornament in this fashion, as with small objects scattered over a surface:
a dress lightly powdered with sequins.
verb (used without object)
to use powder as a cosmetic.
to become pulverized.
Origin of powder1
1250-1300; (noun) Middle English poudre < Old French < Latin pulver- (stem of pulvis) dust, powder; akin to pollen; (v.) Middle English poudren < Old French poudrer, derivative of poudre
Related forms
powderer, noun


[pou-der] /ˈpaʊ dər/
verb (used without object)
British Dialect. to rush.
British Dialect. a sudden, frantic, or impulsive rush.
take a powder, Slang. to leave in a hurry; depart without taking leave, as to avoid something unpleasant:
He took a powder and left his mother to worry about his gambling debts.
Also, take a runout powder.
First recorded in 1625-35; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for powder
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But, fast as you could move, Scottie, powder drives lead a lot faster.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • You see, we left the shop in such a hurry we never thought about powder and ball.

  • We sunk many guns in the lake; and as for the powder, that had taken care of itself.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Ignoring his wild shouts they crunched to powder all his giant bones.

  • Does the white chief burn his powder in the faces of his brothers?

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for powder


a solid substance in the form of tiny loose particles
any of various preparations in this form, such as gunpowder, face powder, or soap powder
fresh loose snow, esp when considered as skiing terrain
(US & Canadian, slang) take a powder, to run away or disappear
to turn into powder; pulverize
(transitive) to cover or sprinkle with or as if with powder
Derived Forms
powderer, noun
powdery, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French poldre, from Latin pulvis dust
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 powder

c.1300, "ash, cinders; dust of the earth;" early 14c., "pulverized substance;" mid-14c., "medicinal powder;" late 14c. as "gunpowder," from Old French poudre "dust, powder; ashes; powdered substance" (13c.), earlier pouldre (11c.), from Latin pulverem (nominative pulvis) "dust" (see pollen). Specialized sense "gunpowder" is from late 14c. In the sense "powdered cosmetic," it is recorded from 1570s.

In figurative sense, powder keg is first attested 1855. Powder room, euphemistic for "women's lavatory," is attested from 1936. Earlier it meant "place where gunpowder is stored on a warship" (1620s). Powder horn attested by 1530s. Powder puff first recorded 1704; as a symbol of femaleness or effeminacy, in use from at least 1930s.

Phrase take a powder "scram, vanish," is from 1920; it was a common phrase as a doctor's instruction, so perhaps from the notion of taking a laxative medicine or a sleeping powder, with the result that one has to leave in a hurry (or, on another guess, from a magician's magical powder, which made things disappear). Powder blue (1650s) was smelt used in laundering; as a color name from 1894.


c.1300, "to put powder on;" late 14c., "to make into powder," from Old French poudrer "to pound, crush to powder; strew, scatter," from poudre (see powder (n.)). Related: Powdered; powdering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
powder in Medicine

powder pow·der (pou'dər)

  1. A dry mass of pulverized or finely dispersed solid particles.

  2. Any of various medicinal or cosmetic preparations in the form of powder.

  3. A single dose of a powdered drug.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for powder



  1. : Bonnie murdered a constable during the powder
  2. The speed of a pitch, esp very high speed; stuff (1932+ Baseball)


  1. To leave; depart hastily, esp in escaping: We better powder (1920+ Underworld)
  2. To hit very hard; pulverize: after he had powdered the second pitch (1940s+ Baseball)

Related Terms

flea powder, foolish powder, joy-powder, runout powder, take a powder

[sense of running away probably fr similar dust fr the notion of raising dust as one runs; perhaps, in view of take a powder and run-out powder, the asi notion is reinforced by that of taking a medicinal powder, esp a laxative, so that one has to leave in a hurry, or perhaps a magical powder that would cause one to disappear]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with powder
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for powder

Difficulty index for powder

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for powder

Scrabble Words With Friends