Entries related to matchbox
"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]
"rectangular wooden container," usually with a lid, Old English box, also the name of a type of shrub, from Late Latin buxis, from Greek pyxis "boxwood," pyxion "writing table, box," made of boxwood, from pyxos "box tree," which is of uncertain origin. Beekes suggests a loan-word from Italy, as that is where the tree is native. Dutch bus, German Büchse "box; barrel of a gun," also are Latin loan-words.
Meaning "compartment at a theater" is from c. 1600 (box seat in the theatrical sense is by 1850). Meaning "pigeon-hole at a post office" is from 1832. Meaning "television" is from 1950 (earlier "gramophone player," 1924). Meaning "station of a player in baseball" is from 1881. Graphics sense "space enclosed within borders and rules" is from 1929. Slang meaning "vulva" is attested 17c., according to "Dictionary of American Slang;" modern use seems to date from c. World War II, perhaps originally Australian, on notion of "box of tricks." Box lunch (n.) attested from 1899. The box set "multiple-album, CD or cassette issue of the work of an artist" is attested by 1955. To think or act outside the box "contrary to convention" is attested by 1994.