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powder definition


This page has 12 definitions of powder in English and Middle English. Powder is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use powder in a sentence are shown. Also define these 15 related words and terms: dust, cosmetics, gunpowder, powder snow, snow, powder blue, pound, grind, rub, sprinkle, salt, corn, meat, poudre, and poudren.

English powder definition

Alternative forms


From Middle English poudre, pouder, pouldre, borrowed from Old French poudre, poldre, puldre, from Latin pulverem, accusative singular of Latin pulvis (dust, powder). compare pollen fine flour, mill dust, E. pollen. Compare polverine, pulverize.



powder (countable and uncountable, plural powders)

  1. The fine particles which are the result of reducing dry substance by pounding, grinding, or triturating, or the result of decay; dust.
    • 3 February 2017, Deborah Orr, “Veg crisis, what veg crisis? If we can’t have courgettes, then let us eat kale”, in The Guardian[1]:
      Let them stop fretting about vegetables denied by the weather and eat chilli powder. Just explain to them that they really shouldn’t think about spiralising it, because that doesn’t work.
    • c. 1588–1593, William Shakespeare, “The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      Grind their bones to powder small.
  2. (cosmetics) A mixture of fine dry, sweet-smelling particles applied to the face or other body parts, to reduce shine or to alleviate chaffing.
  3. An explosive mixture used in gunnery, blasting, etc.; gunpowder.
  4. (informal) Ellipsis of powder snow Light, dry, fluffy snow.
    • Powder Snow definition
      Freshly fallen, uncompacted snow, especially in the context of Alpine skiing
  5. Ellipsis of powder blue The colour powder blue.
    • Powder Blue definition
      A very pale blue colour.

Derived terms


  • Tok Pisin: paura
  • Hindi: पाउडार (pāuḍār)
  • Maori: paura
  • Urdu: پاؤڈر(pāuḍār)



powder (third-person singular simple present powders, present participle powdering, simple past and past participle powdered)

  1. (transitive) To reduce to fine particles; to pound, grind, or rub into a powder.
    • Pound definition
      A unit of mass equal to 16 avoirdupois ounces (= 453.592 37 g). Today this value is the most common meaning of "pound" as a unit of weight. (1 of 7 pound definitions)
  2. (transitive) To sprinkle with powder, or as if with powder.
    to powder one's hair
  3. (intransitive) To use powder on the hair or skin.
    • 1778-1787, Frances Burney, The Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay
      If she is grave, and reads steadily on, she dismisses me, whether I am dressed or not; but at all times she never forgets to send me away while she is powdering, with a consideration not to spoil my clothes
  4. (intransitive) To turn into powder; to become powdery.
    • 1934, Edward Knight, The Clinical Journal Volume 63
      Ample evidence is brought forward to show that the higher incidence of chronic interstitial nephritis in Queensland is due to lead paint on the verandahs and railings of the houses, which powders easily during the long Australian summer.
  5. (obsolete, transitive) To sprinkle with salt; to corn, as meat.
    • Sprinkle definition
      To cause (a substance) to fall in fine drops (for a liquid substance) or small pieces (for a solid substance). (1 of 5 sprinkle definitions)



See also


Middle English powder definition

Etymology 1

From Old French poudre.



  1. Alternative form of poudre

Etymology 2

From Old French poudrer.



  1. Alternative form of poudren
    • Poudren definition
      to powder; to turn into powder, usually by grinding. (1 of 6 poudren definitions)