• A Jamestown sentry on duty shouldering his heavy matchlock musket. (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.)
    A Jamestown sentry on duty shouldering his heavy matchlock musket. (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.)
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n matchlock an early style of musket; a slow-burning wick would be lowered into a hole in the breech to ignite the charge
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Additional illustrations & photos:

A Matchlock Gun A Matchlock Gun

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Matchlock An old form of gunlock containing a match for firing the priming; hence, a musket fired by means of a match.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n matchlock The earliest form of musket-lock, constructed so as to be fired by means of a match in the form of a cord.
    • n matchlock A musket furnished with a match-lock; a gun fired by means of a lighted match. Matchlocks were used in England till near the end of the seventeenth century, when they were superseded by flintlocks.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Matchlock the lock of a musket containing a match for firing it: a musket so fired
    • ***


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. mesche (Fr. mèche)—Low L. myxus—Gr. myxa, the snuff or wick of a lamp.


In literature:

The matchlock-men tried in vain to check him.
"The Eagle Cliff" by R.M. Ballantyne
About the same period matchlocks were introduced on board ships.
"How Britannia Came to Rule the Waves" by W.H.G. Kingston
For weapons of defence they use matchlocks; in firing them, the weapon is held directly in front of the nose.
"Wealth of the World's Waste Places and Oceania" by Jewett Castello Gilson
A huge Chinaman stood there, pointing his matchlock at Jack.
"The Three Midshipmen" by W.H.G. Kingston
And many a starless midnight the shout of "Soorj Dehu" Broke up with spear and matchlock the Muslim's "Illahu.
"Indian Poetry" by Edwin Arnold
These were reinforced by 600 men from the ships, armed with matchlocks, who were put ashore secretly at midnight.
"Athelstane Ford" by Allen Upward
The natives informed us that Guilpat had a standing army, well supplied with matchlocks, swords, and bows and arrows.
"Borneo and the Indian Archipelago" by Frank S. Marryat
In the face of a murderous fire from their matchlocks, the British stormed the heights and gave no quarter.
"A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year" by Edwin Emerson
The soldiers quickly turned out, matchlocks in hand.
"An Explorer's Adventures in Tibet" by A. Henry Savage Landor
There were also matchlocks, snaphaunce pieces, pistols, swords and hangers (cutlasses).
"Domestic Life in Virginia in the Seventeenth Century" by Annie Lash Jester
I have handled a matchlock afore now, and I can knock down a man an' I have hold of a poker.
"Robin Tremayne" by Emily Sarah Holt
Though the Japanese hunter often uses a matchlock or rifle, his favorite weapons are his long spear and short sword.
"Harper's Young People, January 13, 1880" by Various
Major Matchlock is the next senior, who served in the last civil wars, and has all the battles by heart.
"The Tatler, Volume 3" by Various
The Arab of the desert, wild, untrammelled, ornaments his matchlock with turquoise.
"The Hills and the Vale" by Richard Jefferies
He fired a matchlock at me, which went through the wing of my coat, but did not touch my person.
"Memoirs of the Extraordinary Military Career of John Shipp" by John Shipp
What was a talwar against a matchlock?
"Barclay of the Guides" by Herbert Strang
My countrymen hold life in little value; they have always a sabre by their side, and a long matchlock on their shoulder.
"Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China During the years 1844-5-6. Volume 1 [of 2]" by Evariste Regis Huc
His matchlock, or smooth-bore, if he has one, is borne naked on the shoulder.
"From Sea to Sea" by Rudyard Kipling
He had drifted into the past with his steeple-crowned hat and his matchlock.
"Harper's Round Table, July 16, 1895" by Various
All the cavalry were armed with lances, sabres, bows and arrows, and matchlocks.
"Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China During the years 1844-5-6. Volume 2 [of 2]" by Evariste Regis Huc

In poetry:

Down from his cottage wall he caught
The matchlock, hotly tried
At Preston-pans and Marston-moor,
By fiery Ireton's side;
"The Exiles. 1660" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Gone those sanguine days of slaughter,
Sword and matchlock, pike and brand;
Peace now o'er the ways of water,
Peace o'er all the length of land.
"O’Donnell Aboo" by Clinton Scollard

In news:

Korean Matchlock Musket, ca 1800 PBS.
Korean Matchlock Musket , ca 1800 PBS.
Over the centuries, rifle shooters have developed many arguments to keep them fired up: matchlock versus wheel-lock,45-70 versus.30-30, O'Connor versus Keith, walnut versus synthetic, and on and on and on.