gun·​pow·​der | \ ˈgən-ˌpau̇-dər How to pronounce gunpowder (audio) \

Definition of gunpowder

: an explosive mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur used in gunnery and blasting broadly : any of various powders used in guns as propelling charges

Examples of gunpowder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the 1400s, advances in transportation and military technologies—gunpowder and ships, most prominently—allowed Western powers to begin conquering and subjugating continents and brutally enslaving millions of people. Tim Wu, The Atlantic, "How to Stop Innovation From Breaking America," 16 Oct. 2020 Built on the grounds of an old gunpowder and munitions factory, Dachau accepted its first prisoner transports less than two months after Hitler was appointed Reich chancellor in January 1933. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' Tyrell Crosby finds footing on the field — and his voice for justice off it," 4 Oct. 2020 Inevitably, poison was also added to a new weapon invented in China in the 9th century: gunpowder. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "Nature's Toxic Gifts: The Deadly Story of Poison," 4 Oct. 2020 The production of gunpowder was once a major industry in Enfield. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Is your house worth more? These 10 towns saw the biggest home sale price jumps in July as the residential real estate market heated up in greater Hartford," 4 Sep. 2020 The Navy’s Rail Gun, which employs electric current rather than gunpowder, gets over 8,000 fps with its projectiles. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "The 5 Fastest Rifle Cartridges," 30 July 2020 Historically, urine has been used to whiten teeth, soften leather, make gunpowder and power electricity, Mohi Kumar reported for Smithsonian magazine in 2013. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Astronauts Could Use Their Own Pee to Build a Moon Base," 19 May 2020 No point in driving further than necessary with a trunk full of gunpowder. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "How the Mustang Shelby GT500 Saved the Fourth of July," 4 July 2020 The air was thick with the smell of gunpowder as fireworks exploded over the pecan orchard in unincorporated Dallas County. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "Boom and bust: Local fireworks stands thrive during pandemic as big-display outfits take a ‘gut punch’," 3 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gunpowder.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gunpowder

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of gunpowder was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

29 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gunpowder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce gunpowder (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gunpowder

: a dry explosive substance that is used in guns and to break open sections of rock or earth for mining, building roads, etc.


gun·​pow·​der | \ ˈgən-ˌpau̇-dər How to pronounce gunpowder (audio) \

Kids Definition of gunpowder

: an explosive powder used in guns and blasting

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More from Merriam-Webster on gunpowder

Nglish: Translation of gunpowder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gunpowder for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gunpowder

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