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

  • n. A long forked stick for holding a match, formerly used to fire cannon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A pointed forked staff, shod with iron at the foot, to hold a lighted match for firing cannon.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A pointed forked staff, shod with iron at the foot, to hold a lighted match for firing cannon.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A pointed staff with a crotch or fork at one end to hold a lighted match, used in firing cannon.

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

  • n. a stick about a meter long with a point on one end (to stick in the ground) and a forked head on the other end (to hold a lighted match); formerly used to fire cannons


Obsolete lyntstock, alteration (possibly influenced by lint, used for tinder) of Dutch lontstok : lont, match + stok, stick (from Middle Dutch stoc).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Corrupted from luntstock, Dutch lonistok; lont lunt + stok stock, stick. See link a torch, lunt, and stock. (Wiktionary)


  • When Raphael describes the artillery used in Heaven, he speaks of cannon balls as "iron globes" and "balls of missive ruin," and calls the linstock the "incentive reed pernicious," thereby perhaps drawing attention to the strange character of the new invention.


  • I should have also made a linstock out of wire with florists wire wrapped around the stick, but I forgot to do this.

    Suren British Artillery Crew

  • It was the difference between a cannon lying quiet in its embrasure, and the same gun when touched by the linstock.

    The Monastery

  • They dismounted, and bade Thiebault and the grooms look to the horses, while the Earl of Oxford and his son took each a linstock from one of the helpless gunners, three of whom were just sober enough to stand by their guns.

    Anne of Geierstein

  • Simmons reappeared with the grenades and Sharpe took a linstock from one of the remaining water barrels, lit its fuse, then waited until the vagaries of the ocean swells brought a French gunport into view.

    Sharpe's Trafalgar

  • The Frenchman sprang back and Sharpe skipped aside for he could see the gunner holding the linstock to the touch-hole.

    Sharpe's Trafalgar

  • The army's field artillery, none of it so big as these guns, was fired with a linstock, a slow match that glowed red as it burned, but no naval Captain would dare have a glowing red-hot linstock lying loose on a gundeck where so much powder lay waiting to explode.

    Sharpe's Trafalgar

  • Instead the guns had flintlocks, though, if the flintlock failed, a linstock was suspended in a nearby tub half-filled with water.

    Sharpe's Trafalgar

  • Morris could hear footsteps hurrying along the nearer firestep and he saw a brief glow as a linstock was plucked from a barrel and blown into red life.

    Sharpe's Fortress

  • Plummer called to the Sergeant, who took a glowing linstock from a protective barrel, reached across the gun's high wheel and touched the fire to the reed.

    Sharpe's Fortress


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  • A staff about three feet long, having a pointed foot to stick in the deck or ground, and a forked head to hold a lighted (slow) match.

    Linstocks are used to spark cannons, so that artillerists can be a little further away from the gun when it goes off.

    February 2, 2007