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powder keg

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

Origin of powder keg

First recorded in 1850–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for powder keg

Historical Examples

  • It came out, too, how Billy Topsail had held the candle over the powder-keg.

    Billy Topsail & Company

    Norman Duncan

  • Some time after Felipe's departure, Stephens went to his powder-keg and measured out three charges of blasting-powder.

    Lone Pine

    R. B. (Richard Baxter) Townshend

  • Felipe followed him instantly to the storeroom where he kept his powder-keg, mining-tools, pack-saddles, and provisions.

    Lone Pine

    R. B. (Richard Baxter) Townshend


British Dictionary definitions for powder keg

powder keg

noun
  1. a small barrel used to hold gunpowder
  2. informal a potential source or scene of violence, disaster, etc
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