Definition of touchpaper in US English:



  • 1A strip of paper impregnated with niter, for lighting fireworks or explosive substances.

    • ‘And he can light the blue touchpaper on a Roman Candle, but it may be impossible to tell whether the ensuing two second fizzing is the intended special effect or a product malfunction.’
    • ‘They delight in allowing their children within close proximity of devices that will burn their faces off quicker than you can say 'light the blue touchpaper and stand well back'.’
    • ‘At the time the first touchpaper was scheduled to be lit, cars were still queueing bumper to bumper on Netherhampton Road.’
    • ‘Light the blue touchpaper, and retire to a safe distance.’
    1. 1.1 Used in reference to an action that is likely to cause anger or controversy.
      ‘it was an intervention by the umpire that lit the blue touchpaper’
      • ‘I like to think that I am not unduly irritated by life, but the last week has finally lit my personal touchpaper.’
      • ‘The Prime Minister had lit the touchpaper and retired to Downing Street, job done.’
      • ‘Any proposed variation of a ban immediately ignites a toxic touchpaper.’
      • ‘By contrast, now I just sit there and wait for the magic word to set off the blue touchpaper.’
      • ‘It was those last words that finally lit the blue touchpaper.’
      • ‘Mentioning it to members of the 1958 squad was lighting the blue touchpaper of 45-year-old grievances.’
      • ‘He may not be around to light the blue touchpaper at future internationals, but fireworks lie ahead.’
      • ‘Asked to look to the future Adu briefly hesitates, perhaps wary of relighting the promotional touchpaper, yet can't resist touching on the 2006 World Cup in Germany.’
      • ‘If we follow this route, I think we can both say, with considerable justification, that we have exhausted every conceivable avenue prior to lighting the litigation touchpaper.’
      • ‘The blue touchpaper has been lit and things will explode in Question Time today.’