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 The hot summer wind kicked up dust, smoke and the smell of gunpowder as villagers tried to make sense of why their remote village was demolished by an American airstrike in the middle of the night. Brett Murphy, USA Today, "Inside the U.S. military raid against its own security guards that left dozens of Afghan children dead," 30 Dec. 2019 Boyle, for his part, wondered whether it could be harnessed as a starter for gunpowder. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, "The Histories Hidden in the Periodic Table," 27 Dec. 2019 The idea was for the gunpowder to blast the colored powder indicating the gender out the top of the stand. Philip Joens, USA TODAY, "Woman killed in gender reveal explosion was 45 feet away from device, died instantly," 29 Oct. 2019 On a sunny summer day in 1777, Eunice Stocking was returning to her South Glastonbury home after delivering gunpowder in Massachusetts when the ground shook and a large, black cloud rose on the horizon. Peter Marteka,, "Tour a South Glastonbury cemetery and hear stories from ghosts this weekend," 17 Oct. 2019 One possibility is that the bullet somehow harnesses the hot, expanding gasses from burning gunpowder—the same gasses that force a bullet through the barrel and downrange—to create the supercavitation bubble. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "U.S. Special Forces Take Huge Step Toward Developing an Underwater Bullet," 29 Nov. 2019 Miners would wrap gunpowder in silver paper to create the explosions, and called them tacos. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "Mean Miner’s brings a mean taco to Eagan," 13 Nov. 2019 Authorities said Pamela Kreimeyer died after members of her family inadvertently created a pipe bomb while trying to make a device that would shoot colored gunpowder out of a stand. Rachel Desantis,, "‘Gender Reveal’ Stunt Involving Pink Water Caused Small Plane Crash in Texas, Injuring 1: NTSB," 11 Nov. 2019 Joe Rhodes, an artilleryman for 34 years with the Colorado Army National Guard and now an environmental restoration specialist with the agency, said most of the projectiles back then contained gunpowder as their explosive force. John Aguilar, The Denver Post, "Finally, a plan to rid Green Mountain of potentially lethal World War I-era munitions," 11 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of gunpowder

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gunpowder

Time Traveler for gunpowder

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for gunpowder

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gunpowder.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gunpowder


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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on gunpowder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gunpowder

Spanish Central: Translation of gunpowder

Nglish: Translation of gunpowder for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on gunpowder

What made you want to look up gunpowder? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


experienced by way of someone else

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!