match (n.1)

"stick for striking fire." Late 14c., macche, "wick of a candle or lamp," a sense now obsolete, from Old French meiche "wick of a candle," from Vulgar Latin *micca/*miccia (source also of Catalan metxa, Spanish mecha, Italian miccia), which is of uncertain origin, 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.

The modern spelling is from mid-15c. The meaning "piece of cord or tow soaked in sulfur, used for lighting fires, lamps, candles, etc." is from 1530. It was used by 1830 for the modern type of sulfur-tipped wooden friction match, which were perfected about that time, and competed with lucifer for much of 19c. as the name for this invention. An earlier version consisted of a thin strip of wood tipped with combustible matter that required contact with phosphorous carried separately in a box or vial.

In the manufacture of matches much trouble has been occasioned by the use of phosphorous .... In some of the small and poorly-managed factories the men and children are never free from the fumes; their clothes and breath are luminous in the dark, and in the daytime white fumes may be seen escaping from them whenever they are seated by the fire. ... The danger arising from the use of matches was magnified, because they could sometimes be seen in the dark, were liable to ignite on a warm shelf, and were poisonous to such an extent that children had been killed by using them as playthings. [John A. Garver, "Matches," in The Popular Science Monthly, August 1877]

match (n.2)

"one of a pair, an equal." Middle English macche, from Old English mæcca "companion, mate, one of a pair, wife, husband, one suited to another, an equal," from gemæcca, from Proto-Germanic *gamakon "fitting well together" (source also of Old Saxon gimaco "fellow, equal," Old High German gimah "comfort, ease," Middle High German gemach "comfortable, quiet," German gemach "easy, leisurely"), from PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit."

Meaning "person or thing that exactly corresponds to another" is from c. 1400. Middle English sense of "matching adversary, person able to contend with another" (c. 1300) led to sporting meaning "contest," which is attested from 1540s. Meaning "a matrimonial compact" is from 1570s.

match (v.)

mid-14c., macchen, "be able to compete with, be an adequate opponent for;" late 14c., "to join one to another" (originally especially in marriage), from match (n.2). Meaning "to place (one) in conflict with (another)" is from c. 1400. That of "to pair with a view to fitness, find or provide something to agree or harmonize with" is from 1520s; that of "to be equal to" is from 1590s. Related: Matched; matching.

updated on December 13, 2020

Definitions of match from WordNet
match (v.)
be compatible, similar or consistent; coincide in their characteristics;
The suspect's fingerprints don't match those on the gun
Synonyms: fit / correspond / check / jibe / gibe / tally / agree
match (v.)
provide funds complementary to;
The company matched the employees' contributions
match (v.)
bring two objects, ideas, or people together;
Matchmaker, can you match my daughter with a nice young man?
Synonyms: mate / couple / pair / twin
match (v.)
be equal to in quality or ability;
Her persistence and ambition only matches that of her parents
Synonyms: equal / touch / rival
match (v.)
make correspond or harmonize;
Synonyms: fit
match (v.)
give or join in marriage;
match (v.)
set into opposition or rivalry;
let them match their best athletes against ours
Synonyms: pit / oppose / play off
match (v.)
be equal or harmonize;
The two pieces match
match (v.)
make equal, uniform, corresponding, or matching;
The company matched the discount policy of its competitors
Synonyms: equal / equalize / equalise / equate
match (n.)
lighter consisting of a thin piece of wood or cardboard tipped with combustible chemical; ignites with friction;
he always carries matches to light his pipe
Synonyms: lucifer / friction match
match (n.)
a formal contest in which two or more persons or teams compete;
match (n.)
a burning piece of wood or cardboard;
if you drop a match in there the whole place will explode
match (n.)
an exact duplicate;
when a match is found an entry is made in the notebook
Synonyms: mate
match (n.)
the score needed to win a match;
match (n.)
a person regarded as a good matrimonial prospect;
Synonyms: catch
match (n.)
a person who is of equal standing with another in a group;
Synonyms: peer / equal / compeer
match (n.)
a pair of people who live together;
Synonyms: couple / mates
match (n.)
something that resembles or harmonizes with;
that tie makes a good match with your jacket
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.