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 Last month, 25 defendants wereaccused of selling heroin, fentanyl, and crack and powder cocaine to individual drug users in East Baltimore and in bulk to other distributors. Baltimore Sun Staff, baltimoresun.com, "Feds and Baltimore police unveil a permanent ‘Strike Force’ targeting local drug gangs and foreign suppliers," 4 Sep. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Chemicals in dry powder or foam form may be compatible with the relatively small payload (440 pounds is about 50 gallons of water) of a VoloDrone-style electric craft. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Here's John Deere's Cropdusting Drone," 7 Nov. 2019 Little Switzerland ski hill in Slinger is opening Saturday with a dusting of natural powder and some artificial snowmaking. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Little Switzerland ski hill is opening this weekend -- its earliest opening date ever," 7 Nov. 2019 Dry powder inhalers require patients to have at least enough lung strength to draw in the medication, and many do not. Time, "How Asthma Inhalers Are Choking the Planet," 5 Nov. 2019 Probably one of the most recognizable symbols of Día de los Muertos, these skulls are often made of granulated sugar, meringue powder and water. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian, "The Meaning Behind Six Objects on Día de los Muertos Altars," 1 Nov. 2019 Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons ghee and add finely chopped parsley and garlic powder. Lauren Joskowitz, USA TODAY, "How to make Red Lobster's cheddar biscuits at home," 1 Nov. 2019 Word about the store spread during its first week on Facebook’s Margate Florida Residents page, where former City Commissioner Le Peerman boasted of finding a bargain on psyllium husk powder. Ron Hurtibise, sun-sentinel.com, "Treasure hunts become weekly bargains at new liquidation store," 31 Oct. 2019 No shopping or clubbing, Alta is for skiers who value powder of purchases. Jordan Riefe, Orange County Register, "All snow, all the time at Utah’s new ski paradise for diehards," 31 Oct. 2019 For the Chocolate Frosting: Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Allene Arnold, al, "4 creative recipes to thrill guests this Halloween," 29 Oct. 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

30 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for powder

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

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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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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).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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