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powder keg

a small, metal, barrellike container for gunpowder or blasting powder.
a potentially dangerous situation, especially one involving violent repercussions.
Origin of powder keg
First recorded in 1850-55 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for powder keg
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And he lowered the lantern until it rested on the very rim of the powder keg.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • Stand back there or I'll drop a lighted match into a powder keg!

  • Without knowing, we are sitting on a powder keg in which the fuse may or may not be lighted.

    Cubs of the Wolf Raymond F. Jones
  • I was afraid I had said good-bye when you were left with that powder keg.

    Fire Island G. Manville Fenn
  • She did not try to carry the powder keg, but she took the powder in a girl's way.

  • No one could tell how soon an explosion might bring disaster to the region; they put distance between them and the powder keg.

    The Man From Brodney's

    George Barr McCutcheon
  • Billy rested his left hand on the head of a powder keg, which stood on end on the counter beside him.

    Billy Topsail & Company

    Norman Duncan
British Dictionary definitions for powder keg

powder keg

a small barrel used to hold gunpowder
(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
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