powder keg


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


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Origin of powder keg

First recorded in 1850–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences 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