pow·​der | \ ˈpau̇-dər How to pronounce powder (audio) \
powdered; powdering\ ˈpau̇-​d(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce powdering (audio) \

Definition of powder

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to sprinkle or cover with or as if with powder
2 : to reduce or convert to powder
3 : to hit very hard

intransitive verb

1 : to become powder
2 : to apply cosmetic powder


noun, often attributive

Definition of powder (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : matter in a finely divided state : particulate matter
2a : a preparation in the form of fine particles especially for medicinal or cosmetic use
b : fine dry light snow
3 : any of various solid explosives used chiefly in gunnery and blasting


geographical name
Pow·​der | \ ˈpau̇-dər How to pronounce Powder (audio) \

Definition of Powder (Entry 3 of 3)

1 river 150 miles (241 kilometers) long in eastern Oregon flowing into the Snake River
2 river 375 miles (604 kilometers) long in northern Wyoming and southeastern Montana flowing north into the Yellowstone River

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Other Words from powder


powderer \ ˈpau̇-​dər-​ər How to pronounce powderer (audio) \ noun


powderless \ ˈpau̇-​dər-​ləs How to pronounce powderless (audio) \ adjective
powderlike \ ˈpau̇-​dər-​ˌlīk How to pronounce powderlike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of powder in a Sentence

Verb She powdered her face and put on lipstick. you have to powder the antibiotic tablet and mix it with food Noun The powder is made from the roots of the plant. Mix together the different powders. She crushed the peppercorns into a fine powder. We're running low on baby powder and diapers. We woke this morning to several inches of fresh powder on the ground.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Snowflakes powdered one workout in Greenwood's Glendale driveway. Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Chin Up: Coronavirus is no match for a life-changing bond between football player with a brain injury and his trainer," 22 May 2020 Granite’s rough texture is ideal for grinding, powdering, or crushing spices, seeds, nuts, and more. Popular Science, "Beautiful mortars and pestles for any type of cooking," 18 Oct. 2019 Milk & Milk Alternatives: Condensed, irradiated (aseptic) or powdered milk are important staples. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "Everything you need at home if you are quarantined—and what you don’t," 12 Mar. 2020 The thick mat of curly brown hair on its forehead was powdered by a summer dust. Christopher Preston, The Atlantic, "Conservationists No Longer Agree on What ‘Wild’ Means," 9 Apr. 2020 Not far from where Washington now sits waits Jefferson, looking about the same height as his fellow Virginian but powdering his hair only a little and letting the queue hang free over his back. CBS News, "Book excerpt: "Washington's End," on the final years of the father of our country," 21 Feb. 2020 This simple and rich hot cocoa recipe takes minutes to make and will beat any instant powdered mix. ExpressNews.com, "Recipe: Grandma Pat’s Hot Chocolate," 18 Dec. 2019 Even while countless Chinese companies were producing illicit powdered fentanyl for sale to American customers, the Chinese maintained their stance, and the companies continued to operate unimpeded. Alex W. Palmer, New York Times, "The China Connection: How One D.E.A. Agent Cracked a Global Fentanyl Ring," 17 Oct. 2019 Last month, 25 defendants were accused of selling heroin, fentanyl and crack and powder cocaine to individual drug users in East Baltimore and in bulk to other distributors. Washington Post, "New federal ‘Strike Force’ will target Baltimore drug gangs," 5 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The officers who responded saw that the car’s occupants had glass jars of marijuana, paraphernalia and a white powder, which the occupants admitted was cocaine. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, "Woman chases off burglars: Westlake Police Blotter," 2 May 2020 Added a little garlic powder and some Italian seasoning. Dallas News, "#EvanHelpUs: Evan’s all-time Rangers lineup; is expansion in MLB’s future?," 17 Apr. 2020 But while coffee beans look more or less identical whether grown in Ethiopia, Brazil, or Indonesia, they can be prepared in so many ways: dark roasted or light, coarsely ground or smashed to a fine powder, black or milky. Alex Erdekian, Condé Nast Traveler, "What You Need to Make 15 of the Best Coffee Drinks from Around the World," 16 Apr. 2020 For casseroles, mac and cheese and different soups, adding in a little dry milk powder can give it a flavor boost. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "How to eat healthy even when money is tight and you have a family to feed," 14 Apr. 2020 The vaccine comes as a powder, which must be reconstituted with an accompanying solution of sterile diluent and then used within 6 hours. Leslie Roberts, Scientific American, "Why Measles Deaths Are Surging—and Coronavirus Could Make it Worse," 8 Apr. 2020 The yeast then goes through a filter press, and can then be dried and packaged as a coarse powder. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "The hot grocery item no one can find? Active dry yeast," 25 Mar. 2020 The whey is generally drained off, concentrated and dried into a powder. Stephanie Clark, The Conversation, "Why does Swiss cheese have holes?," 27 Feb. 2020 The deep powder made for slow rides and soft landings, at least until the snow was packed down. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "Sledders kick up fun as powder piles up in Anchorage," 27 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'powder.' 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 powder


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for powder


Middle English poudre, from Anglo-French pudre, podre, from Latin pulver-, pulvis dust; probably akin to Sanskrit palāva chaff

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Time Traveler for powder

Time Traveler

The first known use of powder was in the 14th century

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Statistics for powder

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Powder.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powder. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for powder


How to pronounce Powder (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of powder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to put powder on (your face or body)



English Language Learners Definition of powder (Entry 2 of 2)

: a dry substance made up of very tiny pieces of something
: a very fine, dry substance that is put on your body or face especially to make it dry or less shiny
: snow that is very light and dry


pow·​der | \ ˈpau̇-dər How to pronounce powder (audio) \
powdered; powdering

Kids Definition of powder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to sprinkle or cover with or as if with fine particles of something The cookies were powdered with sugar.
2 : to reduce or change to powder



Kids Definition of powder (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a dry substance made up of fine particles The stone was crushed into powder.
2 : something (as a food, medicine, or cosmetic) made in or changed to the form of a powder garlic powder


pow·​der | \ ˈpau̇d-ər How to pronounce powder (audio) \

Medical Definition of powder

: a product in the form of discrete usually fine particles specifically : a medicine or medicated preparation in the form of a powder antiseptic powder digestive powder

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