Definitions

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

  • n. A metal cup, often suspended on a pole, containing burning oil or pitch and used as a torch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A metal cup, suspended from a pole and filled with burning pitch etc; once used as portable illumination.
  • n. A small furnace or iron cage to hold fire for charring the inside of a cask, and making the staves flexible.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An open frame or basket of iron, filled with combustible material, to be burned as a beacon; an open lamp or firrepan carried on a pole in nocturnal processions.
  • n. A small furnace or iron cage to hold fire for charring the inside of a cask, and making the staves flexible.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A cup of any incombustible material mounted upon a pole or suspended from above, and serving to contain a light often made by the burning of a coil of pitched rope. Compare beacon.
  • n. An iron frame used by coopers in heating barrels, to clear the inside and make the staves flexible.
  • n. A kitchen utensil for setting a pot-over the fire.
  • n. A chafer or small portable furnace upon which a dish can be set to be kept hot.

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, alteration of croisuel, probably from Vulgar Latin *croceolus, small lamp.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old French crasset, cresset ("sort of lamp or torch"); perhaps of Old Dutch or Old High German origin, and akin to English cruse, French creuset ("crucible"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The lantern, a kind of cresset protected by a wire globe, was suspended from the roof by a string.

    Messengers of Evil Being a Further Account of the Lures and Devices of Fantômas

  • The leaves of the square-stemmed figwort, which they called 'cresset' or 'cressil,' were occasionally placed on a sore; and the yarrow -- locally 'yarra' -- was yet held in estimation as a salve or ointment.

    Round About a Great Estate

  • a "cresset," the flames of which were fed with "scrap," which blazed brilliantly, throwing a big glare over all the ship.

    The Cruise of the Cachalot Round the World After Sperm Whales

  • Frenzill climbed the stone stairs out into the cool evening, hung the cresset back upon its hook next to the keys, and slowly walked back to the House of Fine Spirits.

    Father Swarat

  • Dodging them, Frenzill slipped inside the gaol's back entrance and fumbled the cresset from the wall.

    Father Swarat

  • Here the mock Caliph landed and, mounting the mule, rode away with his courtiers and his cup-companions preceded by the cresset-bearers crying aloud, and followed by his household which busied itself in his service.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • And they sighted in the stern another man, clad like the first and bearing a like cresset, and in the barge were two hundred white slaves, standing ranged to the right and left; and in the middle a throne of red gold, whereon sat a handsome young man, like the moon, clad in a dress of black, embroidered with yellow gold.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Khalifah the Fisherman, naked and wrapped in the net; and indeed he was horrible to behold, as to and fro he rolled with eyes for very redness like cresset-gleam and dusty hair in dishevelled trim, as he were an Ifrit or a lion grim.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Hardly had dawned the day when there arose a great cloud of dust which presently lifting, discovered seven hundred mules laden with stuffs and attended by muleteers and baggage-tenders and cresset-bearers.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Here and there, a coal fire in an iron cresset blazed upon a wharf; but, one knew that it too had been black a little while ago, and would be black again soon.

    Reprinted Pieces

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • JM says give the cocky another cresset so it can read all about it.

    March 10, 2010

  • Glendower: "At my nativity the front of heaven was full of fiery shapes, of burning cressets; and at my birth The frame and huge foundation of the Earth shak'd like a coward.
    Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I III. i. Line 13

    September 24, 2009

  • see also crucible

    June 18, 2007

  • "A vessel of iron or the like, made to hold grease or oil, or an iron basket to hold pitched rope, wood, or coal, to be burnt for light; usually mounted on the top of a pole or building, or suspended from a roof. Frequent as a historical word; in actual use applied to a fire-basket for giving light on a wharf, etc." Oxford English Dictionary.

    February 2, 2007

  • "Shouldering the lamp he staggers away through the crowd with his flaring cresset."
    Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    January 28, 2007