gun·​pow·​der ˈgən-ˌpau̇-dər How to pronounce gunpowder (audio)
: 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 July 1693, for example, Thomas Tew of Rhode Island plundered £100,000 of gold and silver, gems, pearls, elephant tusks, spices, silk, and gunpowder from a ship bound for what is now Saudi Arabia. Sean Kingsley, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 May 2024 The women make their own bombs, mixing TNT and aluminum powder, then layer metal balls and gunpowder around the volatile core. Paul Mozur Adam Ferguson, New York Times, 4 May 2024 The pipe was filled with a powder-like substance, preliminarily identified as smokeless gunpowder, according to the document. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 18 Apr. 2024 Xi nonetheless found plenty of ways to support the Russian war machine, sending semiconductors, unarmed drones, gunpowder, and other wares. Matt Pottinger, Foreign Affairs, 10 Apr. 2024 The property, formerly the site of a 19th century gunpowder factory, includes the first du Pont family home and gardens in America. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 25 Sep. 2023 Supply-chain bottlenecks and a steep increase in international demand — caused in part by the wars in Ukraine and Gaza — have exhausted supplies of gunpowder and rocket propellants. David L. Stern, Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2024 Whoever can turn it invisible by bending light around it will change warfare just as dramatically as the Chinese alchemist 900 years ago who was looking for the elixir of life and discovered gunpowder. Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2024 That’s not to say that the discovery of gunpowder and metalworking automatically advanced weapons development. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 7 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gunpowder.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near gunpowder

Cite this Entry

“Gunpowder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


gun·​pow·​der -ˌpau̇d-ər How to pronounce gunpowder (audio)
: an explosive mixture used in guns and blasting

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