Or black powder; The oldest known explosive, a mixture of 75% potassium nitrate (saltpeter), 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur. Sulfur ignites at a low temperature, charcoal burns readily, and the potassium nitrate provides oxygen for the explosion. Although progressively replaced since the late 19th century by high explosives, gunpowder is still widely used for quarry blasting, fuses, and fireworks.
Gunpowder is believed to have been invented in China in the 10th century, but may also have been independently discovered by the Arabs. Certainly the Arabs produced the first known working gun 1304. Gunpowder was used in warfare from the 14th century but it was not generally adapted to civil purposes until the 17th century, when it began to be used in mining.
A mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in a 75:15:10 ratio which is used in gunnery, time fuses, and fireworks; SYN. powder. gun powder
ETYM Old Eng. poudre, pouldre, French poudre, Old Fren. also poldre, puldre, Latin pulvis, pulveris: cf. pollen fine flour, mill dust, Eng. pollen. Related to Polverine, Pulverize.
1. A solid substance in the form of tiny loose particles.
2. Any of various cosmetic or medical preparations dispensed in the form of a powder.