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match,small stick whose chemically coated tip bursts into flame when struck on a rough surface. Before the introduction of the match, fire was made by friction methods using the stick and the groove, the fire drill, or flint, tinder, and steel, or by employing a magnifying glass. Attempts in the 18th cent. to cause ignition by the use of chemicals resulted in a friction match devised in 1827 by an Englishman, the apothecary John Walker, and in a phosphorus match invented in France in 1831 by the French student Charles Sauria. In the United States a practical phosphorus match was patented in 1836. The safe, cheap modern match was made possible by mechanized large-scale manufacture and by the use of nontoxic chemicals, notably the sesquisulfide of phosphorus. In the safety match, invented in Sweden in 1855, an oxidizing agent on the match tip is ignited only when struck on a combustible material affixed to the matchbox.
competition between two or more sportsmen or teams. Since the second half of the 19th century, traditional sports contests that are held regularly, for example, the cricket competitions between the teams of England and Australia, have been called matches. The term began to be widely used with this meaning in the mid-20th century, when competitions (such as in track and field, skating, and chess) between sportsmen from different countries became a traditional event, for example, the track and field matches between the USSR and the USA and speed-skating matches between the USSR and Norway.
In the late 19th century and the early 20th, competitions among individual sportsmen also came to be called matches, including those for the title of world champion in professional boxing and chess, and later such games as soccer, basketball, and hockey as well.
a small wooden stick, usually of ash wood, with a head composed of a combustible substance and an oxidizing agent. (Matchsticks are sometimes made of cardboard.) The length of the wooden matchstick is usually 36 to 48 mm. Matchboxes contain 50 to 600 matches.
Matches that ignited from the friction caused by rubbing the match against any rough surface were first produced in the 1830’s. The composition of the match head included white phosphorus—a flammable and toxic substance. The first match factory in Russia was constructed in 1837 in St. Petersburg. Safety matches were first developed in Sweden in 1855 and, hence, were called Swedish matches. By the beginning of the 20th century, they had become the principal type of match.
A distinction is made between household and special-purpose matches. The composition of household match heads can include sulfur, potassium chlorate, potassium dichromate, pyrolusite, animal glue, and zinc oxide. Potassium chlorate, an oxidizing agent, produces combustion, and the glue binds the components of the match head together. Both the glue and the sulfur are combustible. The other components regulate the combustion processes and impart color to the head. The friction surface, usually placed on the side of the matchbox, can consist of, among other things, red phosphorus, antimony sulfide, chalk, and animal glue. Rubbing the head of the match along the friction surface causes the phosphorus, oxidized by the potassium chlorate, to ignite and kindle the sulfur.
Special-purpose matches are divided into wind, signal, and ignition matches. Wind matches have a large head whose composition is easily ignited and not extinguished by wind. Signal matches burn with a clear, colored flame (blue, green, yellow, or red). The heads of ignition matches are made of substance that upon combustion produces a high temperature. These matches are used for igniting thermal charges in welding under conditions in the field.