keep one's powder dry

Stay alert, be careful, as in Go ahead and take on the opposition, but keep your powder dry. This colloquial expression, which originally alluded to keeping gunpowder dry so that it would ignite, has been used figuratively since the 1800s but today is less common than take care.

Nearby words

  1. keep one's head,
  2. keep one's mouth shut,
  3. keep one's nose clean,
  4. keep one's nose to the grindstone,
  5. keep one's own counsel,
  6. keep one's shirt on,
  7. keep one's temper,
  8. keep one's wits about one,
  9. keep one's word,
  10. keep oneself to oneself

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.