Social Question

canidmajor's avatar

Why are matches (you know, those little sticks dipped in sulphur and stuff you light things with) called “matches”? What do they match?

Asked by canidmajor (21232points) August 30th, 2023
16 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

Why weren’t they called “lighters” because they came before the mechanical flame producers?

It’s a conundrum.

Have some fun.

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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

OH! This requires cogitation! I’m going to assert they are called matches, because they were given away in little books at bars where singles would go to meet a match!

ragingloli's avatar

From Middle English macche, mecche (“wick (of a candle)”), from Old French mesche, meische, from Vulgar Latin micca (compare Catalan metxa, Spanish mecha, Italian miccia), which in turn is probably from Latin myxa (“nozzle, curved part of a lamp”), from Ancient Greek μύξα (múxa, “lamp wick”).

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Everyone, please ignore Loli. They just want to spoil all the fun.

ragingloli's avatar

Spaß ist verboten!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Fun is always allowed in Social!

zenvelo's avatar

@ragingloli beat me to it, it’s from the candle wax drip that looked like a bit of snot.

janbb's avatar

I got this as a “Question for you” and I’m trying to come up with a clever response but I don’t have any bright ideas yet!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb Strike while the iron is hot…

janbb's avatar

Perhaps someone was singing about it in a shtetl in Eastern Europe and that engendered the name?

LadyMarissa's avatar

Historically, the term match referred to lengths of cord (later cambric) impregnated with chemicals, and allowed to burn continuously. A matchlock or firelock is a historical type of firearm wherein the gunpowder is ignited by a burning piece of flammable cord or twine that is touched to the gunpowder. The matchlock mechanism allowed the musketeer to apply the match himself without losing his concentration. Knowing how we like to shorten pretty much every word we utter, I’m going to say that we shortened matchlock to match.

chyna's avatar

How did @zenvelo work snot into this conversation?

janbb's avatar

@chyna It snot that hard to do!

smudges's avatar

@janbb I get a “Question for you” every now and then and remove/delete it. I always figured it was a glitch. It is, isn’t it? I always find the question in General or Social, so it’s for everyone, right?

janbb's avatar

@smudges Not a glitch although it did work better a while ago. The Just for You tab and the Questions for You are either questions that the algorithm shared with you because of your identified topics or ones that another member shared with you because they know it is an area of your expertise. It doesn’t mean that only you can answer the Q but that someone or something has sent it to you.

smudges's avatar

^^ ok, thanks!

zenvelo's avatar

@chyna I was referencing the same etymology as @ragingloli was citing, which included this:

probably ultimately from Latin myxa, from Greek myxa “lamp wick,” originally “mucus,” based on notion of wick dangling from the spout of a lamp like snot from a nostril, from PIE root meug- “slimy, slippery” (see mucus). English *snot also had a secondary sense from late 14c. of “snuff of a candle, burnt part of a wick,” surviving at least to late 19c. in northern dialects.

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