Definition of powder keg in English:

powder keg


  • 1A barrel of gunpowder.

    • ‘Heavy was the powder keg in the padded backpack he possessed-he'd taken all he could comfortably carry upon his back.’
    • ‘It is no coincidence that, in a significant addition to Jonson, he turns Morosus into a man damaged in conflict, his aversion to noise the result of his eardrums being perforated when the powder keg of his ship exploded during battle.’
    • ‘Stepping forward and receiving the half-empty powder keg from her subordinate, the General suppressed an inward shiver of fear as she recognized the contents.’
    1. 1.1 A dangerous or volatile situation.
      ‘the place had been a powder keg since the uprising’
      • ‘In short, the background circumstances were highly inflammable, and if the assassination of Franz Ferdinand had not set the powder keg alight, sooner or later something else probably would have provided the spark.’
      • ‘He repeated the hope last week, for he knows only too well that he is sitting on a powder keg.’
      • ‘And police, trying to defuse a potential powder keg of violence, have appealed for calm all round.’
      • ‘We are sitting on a powder keg and decisions about what is needed must come from the people, who must take ownership of the issue.’
      • ‘The guy is a powder keg and he is liable to do anything.’
      • ‘We are really sitting on a powder keg here in Texas.’
      • ‘As the powder keg of ethnic tensions in the region exploded, the camps were targeted by militias who launched lethal firebomb attacks.’
      • ‘However, a delay such as this with thousands of people from varying nations all milling around the same area - with potential for alcohol and some unruly folk in the mix - is a powder keg just waiting to be lit.’
      • ‘This morning a missed prisoner transfer was the spark that set off the powder keg.’
      • ‘We have not seen a powder keg so close to the fuse either.’
      • ‘And when clubs chuck out at 2am, the mix of liquor, taxi queues and the sheer number of people makes for an interesting powder keg.’
      • ‘He becomes obsessed with them, and when he develops photos that threaten their happy marriage, he becomes a powder keg waiting to explode.’
      • ‘If London during the President's visit will be a powder keg, surely the Mayor has a responsibility not to play with matches.’
      • ‘A powder keg situation at the best of times, the game has added spice as the teams occupy the top two spots in the division with both promotion and the title still to play for.’
      • ‘Now they're bracing for a scorching battle in September over pension reform, a political powder keg because of an electorate angry about shrinking retirement-account balances.’
      • ‘Global poverty is a powder keg that could be ignited by our indifference.’
      • ‘It was a crime that finally ignited a powder keg and caused simmering tensions to erupt into violence.’
      • ‘‘If the United States cannot bring the regional situation under control, it will become the world's largest powder keg,’ he writes.’
      • ‘She becomes a powder keg of emotion, especially in situations where tact would seem to be the rule.’
      • ‘As often as not, it is started by some seemingly innocent remark that sparks an unexpected powder keg lurking in the mind of the listener.’


powder keg