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 Steel projectiles, gunpowder and lots and lots of beer. Lucy Sherriff, CNN, 8 Sep. 2021 But Kennedy was shot four times at point-blank range from behind, one shot passing through his jacket and not striking him, with the fatal shot fired so close there was gunpowder on Kennedy’s hair, the coroner Thomas Noguchi found. Tom Jackman, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Aug. 2021 At various points, imposing iron cauldrons once used in gunpowder manufacturing rest on walls cloaked in vegetation. Washington Post, 7 July 2021 The company’s soldiers had kept their gunpowder dry under tarpaulin and emerged from the muddy riverbank to win a decisive victory. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 16 Aug. 2021 In 1890, its magazine, with 100,000 pounds of gunpowder, blew up. Washington Post, 7 July 2021 Only a few years before the explosive violence at the gunpowder plant, another deadly occurrence started at the DuPont train station. Paul Eisenberg,, 15 Aug. 2021 No latex paint, batteries, explosives, propane tanks, gunpowder, ammunition, flares, medical waste, pharmaceuticals, medicine, radioactive waste (smoke detectors), mercury vapor light bulbs or appliances will be accepted. Rich Heileman, cleveland, 6 Aug. 2021 That's because railguns use electricity instead of gunpowder, or jet or rocket engines, to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound. David Sharp, Chron, 1 July 2021

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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gunpowder hammer

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gunpowder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2021.

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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

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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