powder keg


Definition of powder keg

1 : a small usually metal cask for holding gunpowder or blasting powder
2 : something liable to explode

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Examples of powder keg in a Sentence

Political instability has made the region a powder keg. the immigration bill has become a political powder keg for legislators on both sides of the aisle
Recent Examples on the Web Almost everyone agrees the country’s penitentiaries are powder kegs. Washington Post, "Graft, gangs, bad conditions fuel Honduras prison killings," 23 Dec. 2019 Despite the verdict, the incident ignited a powder keg of racial tension across the country, sparking outrage and protests. Karl Etters, USA TODAY, "George Zimmerman sues Trayvon Martin family, lawyer Ben Crump for $100 million," 5 Dec. 2019 Authorities in the Xinjiang region worried the situation was a powder keg. BostonGlobe.com, "‘Absolutely no mercy’: Leaked files show China’s mass detentions in officials’ own words - The Boston Globe," 17 Nov. 2019 Or the new Iranian prowess could prove to be a powder keg that is ignited by reckless militants in one or more camps. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: We should still be wary of Rocky Flats; Further examinations into U.S.-Iranian relations; Proposition CC: will it fix Colorado or ruin it? (10/27/19)," 28 Oct. 2019 The blast from the powder keg-like eruptions signaled that Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez was back in town preparing for his biannual bout, looking bigger, literally, and hoping to prove better than ever. Manouk Akopyan, Los Angeles Times, "Canelo Alvarez looking to crush Sergey Kovalev, win title in fourth division," 23 Oct. 2019 Los Angeles was already a powder keg just waiting to explode that week, and the verdict led to the L.A. riots. Paula Rogo, Essence, "A ‘Training Day’ Prequel Is In The Works," 14 Oct. 2019 Oregon is a powder keg of militancy right now, and its fuse is now burning bright and hot. Kim Kelly, The New Republic, "The Next Big Labor Strike Hits Oregon," 27 Sep. 2019 The streets of Portland have become a powder keg over the past year during various protests involving far-right groups and antifa, with reports of projectiles being fired, arrests and injuries. NBC News, "Proud Boys rally in Portland is latest test for police," 16 Aug. 2019

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

1791, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for powder keg

Time Traveler

The first known use of powder keg was in 1791

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Statistics for powder keg

Last Updated

30 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Powder keg.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powder%20keg. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for powder keg

powder keg


English Language Learners Definition of powder keg

: a small container that is used to hold gunpowder
: a place or situation that is likely to become dangerous or violent soon

More from Merriam-Webster on powder keg

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with powder keg

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