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Line breaks: pow¦der
Pronunciation: /ˈpaʊdə

Definition of powder in English:


[mass noun]
1Fine, dry particles produced by the grinding, crushing, or disintegration of a solid substance: add four tablespoons of cocoa powder [count noun]: crush the poppy seeds to a powder
More example sentences
  • They can then be pounded to pieces and made into fine powder through repeated grinding in water.
  • The thickness of the laminae increased with the size of the particles of the fine powder, but not to any great extent as follows.
  • All that was left behind him was a fine, crushed multi-colored powder.
dust, fine particles, fine grains;
archaic pulvil, pulvilio
rare pounce
1.1 (also face powder) A cosmetic in the form of powder, applied to a person’s face with a brush or soft pad: she applied lipstick and powder a light dusting of translucent powder
More example sentences
  • The lipsticks, eye shadows, blushes and translucent powder in this kit will help transform your looks in no time.
  • Instead I covered my face in a soft bronzing powder and coated my eyelashes with mascara.
  • I quickly threw on foundation, powder, mascara, eye shadow, and lipstick.
1.2 [count noun] dated A medicine or drug in the form of powder, usually designed to be dissolved in a liquid: she dropped a powder into his water glass
More example sentences
  • Do not use teething lotions, powders, whiskey, or paregoric (because it has opium in it).
  • As well as tinctures, homeopathic remedies are available as sugar-based tablets, pills, granules and powders to be taken by mouth, and some also come as creams or ointments to be applied directly to the skin.
  • The leaves and seeds, which mature in long pods, are used to prepare extracts or powders for medicinal use.
1.3 (also powder snow) Loose, dry newly fallen snow: in Aspen, blue skies and good powder drew in record numbers [as modifier]: powder skiing
More example sentences
  • There was something about the newly falling powder snow that created a haven, erasing all the difficulties the past few weeks had presented and allowed it to be just me and the perfect world outside.
  • He was sitting in loose powder snow on a steep slope and there was no way he could anchor himself to the mountain.
  • Yet all was not powder snow twinkling in a rosy sunrise, and morale continued at a low ebb.
Example sentences
  • And I flung myself on top of him, and there was this awful noise, the smell of cordite, death, powder, gunpowder, everything and that passed over.
  • I pour out a box of black projectile powder, much to the alarm of the two onlookers, and fill it up with my treasures.
  • Doctors also treated a teenager who attempted to build an explosive device with a lead pipe and powder from shotgun cartridges.


[with object] Back to top  
1Apply cosmetic powder to (the face or body): she powdered her face and put on a dab of perfume
More example sentences
  • When talking to Mr. Horsfield, who will become her lover, she powders her face, appearing to Horsfield as controlled, furtive, and calculating.
  • And although powdering the face and hair and wearing some rouge were the rage in England, it wasn't applied like this woman wore it.
  • I then put on my necklace and started powdering my face.
dust, sprinkle/dredge/cover with powder, talc
1.1Sprinkle or cover (a surface) with powder or a powdery substance: broken glass powdered the floor
More example sentences
  • The dance floor was freshly powdered for slippery Motown spins.
  • The baby lay in front of her, powdered with plaster dust, and she pulled the child to her.
2Reduce (a substance) to a powder by drying or crushing it: then the rose petals are dried and powdered
More example sentences
  • A delicious sweet version can be made by mixing the ground black sesame with honey or dry powdered pure sugar cane juice extract.
  • Shoe odour can be eliminated by sprinkling bicarbonate of soda or dry, powdered herbs, such as chamomile, in the shoes each evening.
  • You can even make your own natural insect repellent with a little liquid soap, powdered cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, and water mixed in a spray bottle.


Middle English: from Old French poudre, from Latin pulvis, pulver- 'dust'.


keep one's powder dry

Remain cautious and ready for a possible emergency.
Example sentences
  • With two teams already declared as starters in Lismore, one of which is a Country Labor team, Richmond Valley candidates are so far keeping their powder dry as to possible allegiances.
  • He plans to keep his powder dry for the flurry of deals likely to emerge in the sector.
  • Voters just kept their powder dry until someone viewed as credible came along.

powder one's nose

euphemistic (Of a woman) go to the toilet.
Example sentences
  • One such lady at the table adjacent to ours went to the toilet to powder her nose.
  • But beyond powdering one's nose, women and men surely have other expectations of their town centres.
  • How's this for weird: my Dad went out to powder his nose, and came back and said ‘can you believe it?’

take a powder

North American informal Depart quickly, especially in order to avoid a difficult situation.
Example sentences
  • He was the only one in the entire neighborhood that took a powder.
  • But the way the bishops are going to learn this is by carrying their cross, not taking a powder when it gets hot.
  • The nation's most prestigious newspaper takes a powder, retreating from the insistent voice - in which it advises the administration to provide world ‘leadership’ with its ‘power’ - to a pathetically passive tone.’

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