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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web At least one round burst through the wall, clouding the air with the smell of gunpowder. John Woodrow Cox, Anchorage Daily News, 24 Oct. 2022 When Christianity gained a foothold in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, the Parthenon became the Church of the Parthenos Maria (Virgin Mary), then a mosque and finally a Turkish gunpowder depot. New York Times, 8 July 2022 Going back to 1830, the ordinary gunpowder flask became extraordinary. Brenda Yenke, cleveland, 26 May 2022 Blank cartridge … with a blank, the gunpowder ignites, emulating the sound and smoke of a bullet without any projectile. John Jurgensen, WSJ, 22 Oct. 2021 Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces had destroyed a gunpowder-and-explosives factory in Pavlohrad, a city near the eastern Donbas area, and four weapons depots in the northern Kharkiv region. WSJ, 25 Apr. 2022 Other Asian innovations, like paper and gunpowder, have a clear record of dissemination to Europe, with artifacts and record-keeping that trace their travel westward along routes of trade and conquest. Gregory Barber, WIRED, 29 Aug. 2022 The artillery shells are filled with gunpowder in two tiers. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 30 June 2022 Michėle Colburn indirectly reflects on violence in pretty abstractions executed with watercolor mixed with gunpowder. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 24 June 2022 See More

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.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



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

More from Merriam-Webster on gunpowder

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