Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A candle consisting of a rush wick in tallow. Also called rush candle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a type of inexpensive candle, historically used, formed by soaking the dried pith of the rush plant in fat or grease, which emits light for a relatively short period of time.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rush candle, or its light; hence, a small, feeble light.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A rush-candle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a tallow candle with a rush stem as the wick

Etymologies

rush +‎ light (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The ostler and humpbacked postilion, one bearing a stable-lantern and a hay-fork, the other a rushlight and a broom, constituted the advanced guard; Mrs. Dods herself formed the centre, talking loud and brandishing a pair of tongs; while the two maids, like troops not to be much trusted after their recent defeat, followed, cowering in the rear.

    Saint Ronan's Well

  • He smiled, but it was more like a wince, and as the rushlight fell past his hood and illuminated his features, Maerad saw that he was gray with exhaustion.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • She stood up and reached for a rushlight, uncertain whether to shout for help.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • In the early 1900s, the philosopher Donald Davidson said: “He who thinks to illuminate the whole range of mental action by the light of his own consciousness is not unlike the one who should go about to illuminate the universe with a rushlight.”

    The Master Key System

  • Professor Davidson says: “He who thinks to illuminate the whole range of mental action by the light of his own consciousness is not unlike the one who should go about to illuminate the universe with a rushlight.”

    The Master Key System

  • As I had asked for a night – light, the chamberlain had brought me in, before he left me, the good old constitutional rushlight of those virtuous days. — an object like the ghost of

    Great Expectations

  • A partially opened bedroom – window here and there, bespeaks the heat of the weather, and the uneasy slumbers of its occupant; and the dim scanty flicker of the rushlight, through the window – blind, denotes the chamber of watching or sickness.

    Sketches by Boz

  • He listened for a few moments; the house was perfectly quiet; he extinguished his rushlight, and opened his bedroom door.

    Sketches by Boz

  • That the lady started at this unexpected sound was evident, by her falling up against the rushlight shade; that she persuaded herself it must have been the effect of imagination was equally clear, for when Mr. Pickwick, under the impression that she had fainted away stone – dead with fright, ventured to peep out again, she was gazing pensively on the fire as before.

    The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club

  • However the unconscious middle – aged lady came into that room, it was quite clear that she contemplated remaining there for the night; for she had brought a rushlight and shade with her, which, with praiseworthy precaution against fire, she had stationed in a basin on the floor, where it was glimmering away, like a gigantic lighthouse in a particularly small piece of water.

    The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club

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  • Thereupon, flying into a passion, be gave me half-a-dozen boxes on the ear, in such a style, as to kindle an illumination in my blinking eyes, to which the glories of Solomon's temple were no more to be compared, than the torches in a Candlemas procession to a rushlight. There is for you, you little scoundrel! said he; take that, and learn to mind your business. Must I be eternally at your heels to remind you of what you are to do? Are your brains in your belly, and all your wits in your grinders?

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 10 ch. 10

    October 10, 2008