powder keg


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

Nearby words

  1. powder compact,
  2. powder down,
  3. powder flag,
  4. powder flask,
  5. powder horn,
  6. powder magazine,
  7. powder metallurgy,
  8. powder method,
  9. powder mill,
  10. powder monkey

Origin of powder keg

First recorded in 1850–55

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for powder keg

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

  • 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

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