Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A substance consisting of ground, pulverized, or otherwise finely dispersed solid particles.
  • noun Any of various preparations in the form of powder, as certain cosmetics and medicines.
  • noun A dry explosive mixture, such as gunpowder.
  • noun Light dry snow.
  • transitive verb To turn into or produce as a powder.
  • transitive verb To put powder on.
  • transitive verb To strew or ornament with small objects or flecks.
  • idiom (keep (one's) powder dry) To be ready for a challenge with little warning.
  • idiom (take a powder) To make a quick departure; run away.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To reduce to powder; pulverize; triturate; pound, grind, or rub to fine particles.
  • To sprinkle with powder, dust, ashes, etc.; specifically, to put powder upon: as, to powder the hair or the face.
  • To sprinkle with salt, spices, or other seasoning; hence, to corn; pickle.
  • To sprinkle as with powder; stud; ornament with a small pattern, continually repeated.
  • To whiten by some application of white material in the form of a powder: thus, lace which has grown yellow is powdered by being placed in a packet of white lead and beaten.
  • To scatter; place here and there as if sprinkled like powder: as, to powder violets on a silk ground.
  • To fall to dust; be reduced to powder.
  • To apply powder to the hair or face; use powder in the toilet.
  • To attack violently; make a great stir.
  • noun Fine, minute, loose, uncompacted particles, such as result from pounding or grinding a solid substance; dust.
  • noun A preparation or composition, in the form of dust or minute loose particles, applied in various ways, as in the toilet, etc.: as, hair-powder; face-powder.
  • noun A composition of saltpeter, sulphur, and charcoal, mixed and granulated: more particularly designated gunpowder (which see).
  • noun Seasoning, either of salt or of spices.
  • noun A medical remedy, or a dose of some medical remedy, in the form of powder, or minute loose or uncompacted particles: as, he has to take three powders every hour.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The fine particles to which any dry substance is reduced by pounding, grinding, or triturating, or into which it falls by decay; dust.
  • noun An explosive mixture used in gunnery, blasting, etc.; gunpowder. See Gunpowder.
  • noun etc. See under Atlas, Baking, etc.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the peculiar dust, or exfoliation, of powder-down feathers.
  • noun (Zoöl.) one of a peculiar kind of modified feathers which sometimes form patches on certain parts of some birds. They have a greasy texture and a scaly exfoliation.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a tuft or patch of powder-down feathers.
  • noun a tube of strong linen, about an inch in diameter, filled with powder and used in firing mines.
  • noun (Naut.) a vessel specially fitted to carry powder for the supply of war ships. They are usually painted red and carry a red flag.
  • noun See Magazine, 2.
  • noun a mine exploded by gunpowder. See Mine.
  • noun (Naut.) a boy formerly employed on war vessels to carry powder; a powder boy.
  • noun See Dry rot, under Dry.
  • noun See Puff, n.
  • transitive verb To reduce to fine particles; to pound, grind, or rub into a powder; to comminute; to pulverize; to triturate.
  • transitive verb To sprinkle with powder, or as with powder; to be sprinkle.
  • transitive verb obsolete To sprinkle with salt; to corn, as meat.
  • intransitive verb To be reduced to powder; to become like powder.
  • intransitive verb To use powder on the hair or skin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The fine particles to which any dry substance is reduced by pounding, grinding, or triturating, or into which it falls by decay; dust.
  • noun An explosive mixture used in gunnery, blasting, etc.; gunpowder.
  • noun informal Light, dry, fluffy snow.
  • verb transitive To reduce to fine particles.
  • verb transitive To sprinkle with powder, or as with powder.
  • verb intransitive To be reduced to powder; to become like powder.
  • verb intransitive To use powder on the hair or skin.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English poudre, from Old French, from Latin pulvis, pulver-.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English poudre, pouldre, Old French poudre, poldre, puldre, Latin pulvis ("dust, powder"). compare pollen fine flour, mill dust, E. pollen. Compare polverine, pulverize.

Examples

  • Chlorinated lime powder, bleaching powder+/- 25% active chlorine

    Chapter 4

  • Just the other day my parents were researching tools and came on the term powder-actuated, and I was transported back to that hardware store.

    Cultural Learnings

  • "And soon," said Abby Foxwell, "for I don't know what we'll do a whole day without water, and our powder is about gone."

    Chapter 13

  • They are like a regular chocolate chip cookie except that cocoa powder is added to make the dough chocolately brown.

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • They are like a regular chocolate chip cookie except that cocoa powder is added to make the dough chocolately brown.

    Double Chocolate Dream Cookies

  • "And soon," said Abby Foxwell, "for I don't know what we'll do a whole day without water, and our powder is about gone."

    Chapter 13

  • According to a Pink Tentacle post linking to a FujiSankei Business i. article in Japanese, the RFID "powder" is expected to be available in the next two to three years.

    Boing Boing

  • Then added strawberry flavored protein powder and blended again.

    Blending a Mango...

  • He talked to Ned Cruz, the owner of the Chile Store, who sold chiles year-round as paste and in powder form, dried, fresh, and frozen.

    Alba

  • The glass of Taak with jeera powder is to wash down the hearty meal.

    A Rustic Spread

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • Powder: Try running out into a grassy field on a stormy day, yelling this at the top of your lungs.

    December 10, 2006

  • In the context of my work, this usually means gunpowder. Great word though. I love the saying "take a powder."

    February 13, 2007

  • Or "keep your powder dry."

    February 13, 2007

  • Well, "keep your powder dry" makes sense to me, particularly (as I said) in the context of work. But "take a powder"--that's just plain weird!

    February 13, 2007

  • Think this word is cool? So do I. See?

    March 5, 2007

  • I read somewhere that "take a powder" is thought to come from a use of the word powder as "a sudden or frantic rush." Have you seen that anywhere, Powder Bear?

    March 5, 2007

  • No, I haven't. I'll try to remember to look it up in the OED when I have a chance. Interesting...

    March 6, 2007

  • c_b, can you change your name to powder_bear?

    March 6, 2007

  • Captured at Yorktown, "70 barrels powder," meaning gunpowder, in addition to all the other loot. (Salem, Mass. Gazette, November 15, 1781)

    October 29, 2007

  • "take a powder"--that's just plain weird!

    Weren't most medicines originally powders before they were - ie. in modern times - tablets, capsules, etc.?

    November 21, 2007