touch paper

  1. paper saturated with potassium nitrate to make it burn slowly, used for igniting explosives and fireworks.

Origin of touch paper

First recorded in 1740–50

Words Nearby touch paper Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use touch paper in a sentence

  • It is not necessary,” Hawking and Mlodinow write, “to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

  • William made some touch-paper, which he lighted with one of the glasses from the telescope, and they soon had a good fire.

    Masterman Ready | Captain Frederick Marryat
  • Thus, if the ashes of a cigar be well rubbed into a bit of paper, they convert it into touch-paper.

    The Art of Travel | Francis Galton
  • So will gunpowder, for out of four parts of it, three are saltpetre; damaged gunpowder may be used for making touch-paper.

    The Art of Travel | Francis Galton
  • It was held there, for a minute, while the mate struck a light and applied it to the touch paper.

    For Name and Fame | G. A. Henty
  • I don't know as a regular fuse would do, as it might go out for want of air; but there would be plenty to keep touch paper alight.

    For Name and Fame | G. A. Henty

British Dictionary definitions for touchpaper


/ (ˈtʌtʃˌpeɪpə) /

  1. paper soaked in saltpetre and used for firing gunpowder

  2. light the touchpaper or light the blue touchpaper to do something that will cause much anger or excitement

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