from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various explosive powders used to propel projectiles from guns, especially a black mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An explosive mixture of saltpetre (potassium nitrate), charcoal and sulphur; formerly used in gunnery but now mostly used in fireworks.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A black, granular, explosive substance, consisting of an intimate mechanical mixture of saltpeter, charcoal, and sulphur. It is used in gunnery and blasting.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An explosive mixture of saltpeter, sulphur, and charcoal, reduced to fine powder, and thoroughly incorporated with each other, then granulated, cleaned or dusted, glazed or polished, and dried.
  • n. Picric-acid powders (these are not generally stable);
  • n. ammonium-nitrate powders (these are highly hygroscopic);
  • n. gun-cotton powders;
  • n. nitroglycerin and guncotton powders. The first two classes have practically been abandoned. Smokeless powders are designated from their appearance, the name of the inventor, or arbitrarily, as cordite, Peyton, poudre B., etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in a 75:15:10 ratio which is used in gunnery, time fuses, and fireworks


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Smokeless gunpowder is hard to ignite, and it burns very hot and very quickly once you get it going.

    Would putting smokeless gun powder in a water proof match container make good fire starter.

  • In NYC, I highly recommend the gunpowder masala dosa at Chennai Garden (they call it gunpowder for a reason, trust me).

    Archive 2008-04-01

  • Whoomp, it went, and burned with a brief, merry flame, just the way gunpowder is supposed to.

    How Long Does Gunpowder Live?

  • The old system of primer and gunpowder is going to be replaced by something entirely different — maybe along the lines of the electronic rail gun that NASA is experimenting with.

    The 50 Best Guns of All Time

  • As I write I work opt the idea -- gasoline, balls of oakum, caps and gunpowder from a few cartridges, Roman candles, and flares blue, red, and green, shallow metal receptacles to carry the explosive and inflammable stuff; and a trigger-like arrangement by which, pulling on a string, the caps are exploded in the gunpowder and fire set to the gasoline-soaked oakum and to the flares and candles.

    Chapter 44

  • "Humph!" said Mr. Howard, – "gunpowder is pretty quiet stuff so long as it keeps cool."

    The Wide, Wide World

  • The New York and Liverpool firm that your father belongs to sent on board an honest and peaceable cargo, but there was a good deal of room left in the hold, and the captain filled it up with cannon-balls, musket-bullets, and gunpowder from the English agents of no less a man than General Santa

    Ahead of the Army

  • As I walked forward to obey, my eye fell on a small keg standing by the side of the main-mast, on which the word gunpowder was written in pencil.

    The Coral Island A Tale of the Pacific Ocean

  • "Gracious! we shall be all blown up!" exclaimed Phoebe, -- the word gunpowder being the only one which she understood in the knight's description.

    Woodstock; or, the Cavalier

  • If a society has invented gunpowder, retains knowledge of it, but doesn't use it as our bundled concept of "gunpowder" - or even use it at all - we don't say that they don't have the technology of gunpowder.

    Rad Geek People's Daily


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  • Glad to see it.

    January 24, 2009

  • It seems they've been removed now.

    January 24, 2009

  • I agree. What's with the hostility? If it was meant as a joke, it clearly wasn't taken that way. If the tags annoy, just hide them. Easy enough.

    P.S. C_b, I enjoy your tags immensely.

    January 24, 2009

  • This page may not interest anyone but me, and my tags may not be useful to a large number of people, but insulting tags (as well as deliberately mocking ones that serve no purpose) are really uncalled for. It saddens me to come across these on so many pages.

    January 23, 2009

  • Watch where you're going with that match!

    October 15, 2008

  • *breathes deep*

    I love the smell of this page. OHHH yeah.

    October 15, 2008

  • *smacks self on side of head*

    Of course! Now it makes sense!

    October 15, 2008

  • Don't you want to know why the barrels aren't to be hooped with iron? Dontcha?

    The same reason vent picks are always made of brass!

    I know, right??

    October 15, 2008

  • Wow! A veritable goldmine of gunpowder lore! And a "bangy things" tag! This is the best page ever! :-D

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go move my gunpowder barrels so the stuff doesn't get all lumpy. I don't want to be scraping saltpetre all day, and I can't seem to find a supplier of sieves fine enough for scarcing.

    October 15, 2008

  • And still more information that nobody cares about but me...

    Laws concerning GUNPOWDER and Combustibles. No person shall make gunpowder but in the regular manufactories established at the time of making the stat.ute 12 Geo. III. c. 61, or licensed by the sessions, pursuant to certain provisions, under forfeiture of the gunpowder, and 2s. per lb. nor are pestle-mills to be used under a similar penalty.

    “Only 40lbs. of powder to be made at one time, under one pair of stones, except Battle-powder, made at Battle, and elsewhere, in Sussex.

    “Not more than 40 cwt. to be dried at one time in one stove; and the quantity only required for immediate use to be kept in or near the place of making, except in brick or stone magazines, 50 yards at least from the mill.

    “Not more than 25 barrels to be carried in any hand carriage, nor more than 200 barrels by water, unless going by sea, or coastwise; each barrel to be strongly joined and hooped without iron, and not to contain more than 100lb.

    “No dealer to keep more than 200lbs. of powder; nor any person, not a dealer, more than 50lbs. in the cities of London and Westminster, or within three miles thereof, or within any other city, borough, or market town, or one mile thereof; or within two miles of the king’s palaces or magazines, or half a mile of any parish church, on pain of forfeiture, and 2s. per lb. except in licensed mills, or to the amount of 300lbs. for the use of collieries, within 200 yards of them.

    “By an Act of Parliament made in the 51st year of the reign of King George III. entitled “An Act for the better security of his Majesty’s Naval Arsenals in the River Medway, and Portsmouth, and Hamoaze Harbours, and of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels lying at and resorting to the same,�? the masters of all vessels, not belonging to his Majesty, shall, before entering the above ports or harbours, clear or unload their guns, and deposit all gunpowder on board above 5lbs. weight, in such warehouses as shall be appointed by the Admiralty. All masters or owners neglecting to do so, by the above-mentioned Act, shall forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding ten pounds, nor less than five.�?

    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 181

    October 14, 2008

  • "To restore damaged GUNPOWDER to its proper Strength:—If powder be kept long in a damp place, it will become weak, and be formed partly into hard lumps, which is a sure sign of its being damaged. When powder is thus found, some saltpetre may be perceived at the bottom of the barrel, which, by being wet, will separate from the sulphur and coal, and fall to the bottom of the vessel, settling there in the form of white downy matter. The only method to prevent this is, to move the the barrels as often as convenient, and place them on their opposite sides or ends; but, though the greatest care be taken, length of time will greatly lessen the primitive strength.

    "If it be supposed that the powder has received but little damage, spread it on canvas or dry boards, and expose it to the sun; then add to it an equal quantity of good powder, and mix them well; and, when thoroughly dry, barrel, and put it in a dry place. But, if the powder be found entirely bad, first ascertain what it weighed when good; then, by weighing it again, it will be found how much it has lost by the separation and evaporation of the saltpetre; then add to it as much refined saltpetre as it has wasted; but, as a large quantity of this would be difficult to mix, it will be best to put a proportion of nitre to every 20lb. of powder; when done, put one of these proportions into a mealing table, and grind it till it is brought to an impalpable powder, then scarce it with a fine sieve; but, if any remain in the sieve that will not pass, return it to the table and grind it again, until it is made all fine enough to go through; being thus well ground and sifted, it must be granulated thus:—first, procure some copper wire sieves, made to suit the required size of the grains (these are called corning sieves or grainers), which are to be filled with the composition; then shake them about, and the powder will pass through, formed into grains. Having thus corned it, set it to dry in the sun; and, when quite dry, scarcy it with a fine hair-sieve, to separate the dust from the grains.

    "This dust may be worked with another mixture, so that none may be wasted. Sometimes it may happen that the weight when good cannot be known; in this case, add to each pound one ounce, or one ounce and a half of saltpetre, according to the decay of the powder; then grind, sift, and granulate it, as before directed.

    "If a large quantity of gunpowder appear to be quite spoiled, the best way is to extract the saltpetre from it, as it can scarcely be worth while to attempt its recovery."

    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 181

    October 14, 2008

  • Hey! Thanks, WeirdNet! I never knew the ratio! *hurries off to make some in the kitchen*

    March 20, 2008