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


She powdered her face and put on lipstick. you have to powder the antibiotic tablet and mix it with food


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

The crew is accused of selling heroin, fentanyl, and crack and powder cocaine to individual drug users locally and in bulk to other distributors in the city. Jessica Anderson, baltimoresun.com, "Federal prosecutors indict 90 members of alleged drug crews in effort to stem Baltimore violence," 1 Aug. 2019 However, the processed, powdered kind can lead to some less-than- pleasant consequences. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What Is the Optavia Diet? Why You Should Skip It for Weight Loss, According to a Dietitian," 30 July 2019 They are crushed to extract their oil and the remaining pulp is dried and powdered. The Economist, "Beetles and flies are becoming part of the agricultural food chain," 4 July 2019 In its sleek, unfussy dining room, glamour and grit sat cheek by jowl, and going to the bathroom to powder your nose could mean one of two things. New York Times, "Why Early ’80s New York Matters Today," 17 Apr. 2018 New York’s Kalustyan’s sells the peel in both dried and powdered form, in their shop and online (foodsofnations.com). Allegra Ben-amotz, WSJ, "This Ingredient Lights Up a Dish Like No Other," 18 Dec. 2018 Inside is powdered activated charcoal to absorb any potential leakage. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How the Experts Identify Chemical Weapons and Prove an Attack," 7 Aug. 2018 The tariffs cover a wide variety of cheeses, including grated and powdered. Dale Kasler, sacbee, "How Trump's trade war is hurting California's largest agricultural sector," 8 June 2018 Image On a recent April morning, the developer Mark Gordon stood in a just-finished guest room in his Moxy Downtown hotel in Lower Manhattan, plaster dust powdering his black pants. Jane Margolies, New York Times, "Drawing a Younger Crowd to Lower Manhattan," 22 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His team is selling the kit to drug companies as a quicker and cheaper way to analyse powders. The Economist, "The sound of sand reveals its source," 14 Sep. 2019 This week Mabowa, who was released from the center in July, celebrated with friends by throwing powder on each other’s heads, a local tradition when passing the exam. Washington Post, "Congo Ebola survivor passes college exam taken in isolation," 13 Sep. 2019 The painting that inspired the title is a 1654 work by Carel Fabritius, who was one of Rembrandt’s most outstanding pupils and who died at age 32 in an explosion at a Delft powder magazine; only 15 of his works exist today. Carrie Doyle, Town & Country, "Donna Tartt on The Goldfinch, Inspiration, and the Perils of Literary Fame," 12 Sep. 2019 When cement powder dissolves in water, its molecules begin to form crystals that interlock with each other. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Why Astronauts Are Growing Cement in Space," 12 Sep. 2019 The popular powder tossing is loosely based on the traditions of Holi, a Hindu religious festival. chicagotribune.com, "Festival of Colors celebrates diversity in Skokie," 11 Sep. 2019 Some concoctions include mango puree and chamoy sauce or powder. Fielding Buck, The Mercury News, "Are Micheladas the new margaritas?," 11 Sep. 2019 White powder found in a package at Wright-Patterson U.S. Air Force Base near Dayton around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday was determined not to be hazardous, according to an Air Force news release. Chris Mayhew, Cincinnati.com, "White powder found in package at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio was not hazardous," 11 Sep. 2019 Black magic and cunja powder swirled invisibly in the air. BostonGlobe.com, "Dorothea Benton Frank, a gregarious Southern novelist whose career started on a dare — that she could write a book that would earn enough money to buy back her family house in South Carolina after her mother’s death — died Sept. 2 in a hospital in Manhattan. She was 67.," 10 Sep. 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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Statistics for powder

Last Updated

5 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for powder

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

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More Definitions for powder



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
3 : gunpowder


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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More from Merriam-Webster on powder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with powder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for powder

Spanish Central: Translation of powder

Nglish: Translation of powder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of powder for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about powder

Comments on powder

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


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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