powder keg


Definition of powder keg

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 And a country where policymakers keep more guns designed for killing people available than anywhere else is a powder keg for mass violence. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "America’s mass shootings are a political choice," 6 Aug. 2019 Seattle is, in short, a powder keg of simmering tensions and occasional violent outbursts. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: iZombie sets up strong fifth season, then whiffs the series finale," 5 Aug. 2019 The two-time Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer has survived addiction, prison, heartbreak and four decades in music’s most notorious powder keg, the multi-platinum supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Jordan Runtagh, PEOPLE.com, "The Most Interesting Man in Rock: How David Crosby Survived Everything — and Lived to Sing About It," 24 July 2019 The idea of moving black and brown families into the most hostile territory in the city — the very neighborhoods that had been powder kegs during the busing crisis of the 1970s — seemed like a recipe for disaster. Adrian Walker, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston Housing Authority chief Bill McGonagle, the city’s landlord, takes his leave," 7 July 2019 That would be just a teaser for the human traffic jam inside the tunnel, though, a powder keg of drunk, impatient people jammed into a too-small egress. Dylan Owens, The Know, "Review: Denver gives Garth Brooks the “greatest night of (his) career”," 9 June 2019 The fact that Kansas was always a possession or two from taking the lead ramped up the nervous energy inside Allen Fieldhouse, turning it into a powder keg. Dave Skretta, The Seattle Times, "Lawson’s double-double lifts No. 9 KU past No. 24 Cyclones," 22 Jan. 2019 Its hurdle is to go beyond the political powder keg of the immigration debate and help crime victims in ways that local courts can’t, such as providing details about whether their assailants have been deported. Colleen Long, The Seattle Times, "Trump immigrant crime hotline still faces hurdles, pushback," 5 Feb. 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.

See More

First Known Use of powder keg

1791, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about powder keg

Statistics for powder keg

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for powder keg

The first known use of powder keg was in 1791

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with powder keg

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for powder keg

Comments on powder keg

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


miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!