- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for powder keg
It came out, too, how Billy Topsail had held the candle over the powder-keg.Billy Topsail & Company
Some time after Felipe's departure, Stephens went to his powder-keg and measured out three charges of blasting-powder.
Felipe followed him instantly to the storeroom where he kept his powder-keg, mining-tools, pack-saddles, and provisions.
- 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