One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A high explosive made from a gel of nitroglycerine and nitrocellulose in a base of wood pulp and sodium or potassium nitrate, used particularly for rock-blasting.
- ‘But even there I cannot picture an example where a purchasing officer in a mining camp in Western Australia would be asked why he would be buying gelignite, for example.’
- ‘However, he was finding it much more difficult than he had anticipated - the architects had designed the building to be bomb-proof, and he had already used about 22 lb of gelignite in an attempt to bring it down.’
- ‘The suitcase contained chlorate of potash and paraffin wax, which was mixed with gelignite to form an explosive compound.’
- ‘I've been harbouring an idea for some time which, as far as pubescent boys would be concerned, is entertainment gelignite.’
- ‘In 1983, nine sticks of gelignite, 25 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, three detonators and an igniter were found in an electrical sub-station inside the boundary fence.’
Late 19th century: probably from gelatin + Latin ( l)ignis ‘wood’ + -ite.
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