Gunpowder, also referred to as 'black powder', was the only unique/known chemical explosive until the mid-nineteenth century. It contains potassium nitrate, or 'saltpeter', which is an oxidizer, and a combination of charcoal and sulphur serves as fuel. There is a known/academic consensus that gunpowder was initially invented in China as early as the ninth century. This led to its use in fireworks and in gunpowder weapons.

I am confused between the two choices for the answers though I choose unique for the first and known for the second but I am not finding the context that will complement the same.

Can anyone guide me on what should be the correct answer and why?

2 Answers 2


"Known is clearly the correct choice for the first option. The phrase "only unique" would be a redundancy, and the point is that gunpowder was the sole explosive known to people at that time.

For the second option, I would prefer "academic" because the consensus is in fact one of scholars, that is, academics, This implies that the article should be "an" not "a" so:

there is an academic consensus that gunpowder was initially invented in China ...

I might prefer "first invented" or even just "invented"

"A known consensus" would not be incorrect, but leaves the question of "known to whom" and "whose consensus" while "academic consensus" makes it clear that it is a consensus of scholars, in this case of historians, and implies that the consensus has been accepted through academic procedures, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals.


Unique means the only one of its kind. In this context, known is the correct fit.

As a consensus is an agreement, it can stand by itself.

It is redundant to say a known consensus. If there was a consensus, people knew about the issue and agreed.

And to say an academic consensus would imply that only academics agreed, while in fact people other than academics, such as chemists, the military and engineers, also agreed.

So stick with There is a consensus. It says it all.

  • Simply saying "a consensus" leaves it unclear who has agreed. "An Academic consensus" is more specific, and more authoritative. If in fact scholars of a subject have generally agreed to a theory, saying so is more meaningful than just the general "consensus". Nov 21, 2020 at 20:01
  • Or even "broad consensus". These days in particular it is too easy for groups on e.g. social media to have "a local consensus" which is at odds with reality. Nov 22, 2020 at 13:07

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