Definition of gunpowder in US English:



  • 1An explosive consisting of a powdered mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. The earliest known propellant explosive, gunpowder has now largely been superseded by high explosives, although it is still used for quarry blasting and in fuses and fireworks.

    • ‘Undercover officers rushed in only to find talcum powder and not gunpowder on the agenda.’
    • ‘Just as castle walls gave way to gunpowder and the cannon, so too will present technology give way to new ideas and new tools of war.’
    • ‘It was also used in the past to produce charcoal for gunpowder.’
    • ‘Early grenades were like cartoon bombs: an iron sphere packed with gunpowder and a fuse sticking out of the top.’
    • ‘That way the hard barrel compresses the relatively soft metal of the bullet as the exploding gunpowder hurls the projectile down the barrel.’
    • ‘Charcoal was also essential for the manufacture of gunpowder.’
    • ‘The shells contain silver iodide, explosives and gunpowder.’
    • ‘The youngest sailors would also have had a ‘fireman’ role, damping down loose gunpowder to prevent explosions.’
    • ‘Gunpowder is a mixture of saltpetre, charcoal, and sulphur, and early gunpowder was just that: a powder.’
    • ‘In the early days of quarrying, one-foot holes were made and whole kegs of gunpowder used in blasting.’
    • ‘This incident was particularly severe because of the huge amount of gunpowder in the firework.’
    • ‘The group said it will begin tests in May using land mines without gunpowder.’
    • ‘Cannons, guns, gunpowder, swords and many other weapons of war were needed and Spain bought them from whoever would sell to them.’
    • ‘As her daughter tripped on a mop and dropped a box of glass dishes, the burnt end of that fuse collided with the gunpowder.’
    • ‘The cellar was searched and, hidden amid the large quantity of firewood stored there, 36 barrels of gunpowder were found, along with fuses.’
    • ‘Prior to its first military uses, gunpowder was termed black powder.’
    • ‘There was wax, matches, a long fuse, gunpowder and 20 bullets packed around a quarter stick of dynamite.’
    • ‘But the mere possession of a lot of cannon and gunpowder, or air-to-surface missiles, is not enough.’
    • ‘Propellants such as gunpowder are so-called low explosives that burn but do not normally detonate.’
    • ‘He has a musket, bullets, gunpowder, carpentry tools, clothes, bedding and a Bible.’
  • 2A fine green China tea of granular appearance.