What do you call fireworks that are bought for the sound they make when fired? Formally and especially colloquially?

I have found some names like firecrackers and bang snaps. However, I don't know if they are what I am looking for. What I am looking for are those explosives that are as big as a cigarette or smaller.

4 Answers 4


Small, paper-wrapped gunpowder cylinders with a fuse sticking out whose sole purpose is to make noise are called firecrackers. There are larger diameter variants called M-80's, M-90's but the general term is firecracker. If the purpose is to go up in the air and explode or emit sparks then they are not firecrackers, but fireworks.

  • 1
    I should probably add pictures, but I don't have time before work; maybe tonight.
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 15:07
  • 1
    Thank you Jim, and here's one if you like it.
    – learner
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 16:02
  • Thanks. That pictures shows firecrackers and an M-2 and a cherry bomb (the round green one).
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 16:45
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    BrEng: they're called "Bangers"
    – peterG
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 0:57

The first words came to me was pops or poppers (it turned out that only the latter is common). However, googling for pop firecrackers, I found things like Pop Pop Firecrackers, Pop Pop Snappers, along with this Wikipedia page: Bang snaps,

Bang snaps (also known as Throwdowns, snap-its, poppers, pop-its, snappers, whip'n pops, whipper snappers, fun snaps or snap'n pops) are a type of small novelty firework sold as a trick noisemaker.

However, I think the more common word would be, as Jim mentioned, firecracker,

A firecracker (cracker, noise maker, banger, or bunger) is a small explosive device primarily designed to produce a large amount of noise, especially in the form of a loud bang; any visual effect is incidental to this goal.


In BrE, the word "banger" is used for a small firework that explodes with a bang and doesn't do much else.

In the UK these are not sold anymore. In fact, I think they are illegal.

Words like "firecracker" sound American (but I have enough exposure to AmE to understand it), and M-90 is a specific American size type (again I think I've heard of this, but couldn't tell you how big it is).

  • Wow! Having moved to the US, I hadn't heard that bangers were now illegal. Thousands of fans of The Dandy, and The Beano, not to mention the likes of Whizzer and Chips and Cor must be bereft! (Granted, we're mostly now in our 50s, 60s, and beyond, but still. 🙂)
    – user8719
    Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 15:38
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    Yes, I was right. Bangers are indeed illegal in England and Wales, and have been since 1997. "Any firework which consists of a tube containing black powder, whose functioning principally involves report" These small fireworks caused a disproportionate number of injuries, as they could be easily thrown at people.
    – James K
    Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 16:54

They're called salutes. The term any real firework lover will call anything that's made purely for noise,no color burst, whether on the ground or in the air from a mortar tube is a salute. Unfortunately real salutes, the good ones like m80's, cherry bombs, silver salutes, quarter sticks, pineapples etc....have been illegal in the US since 1966. Some people still make them which is why you hear them every now and then but they're becoming much harder to find. Some states here in the US that allow aerial fireworks you can find good aerial salutes but even those are hard to find. It's a bummer because for me personally the louder the better. The small ones that come in packs tied together such as black cats or lady fingers aren't real salutes, those are what I'd call fire crackers

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