from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A gunlock in which powder is ignited by a match.
- n. A musket having such a gunlock.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Early type of firearm, using a smoldering piece of cord to fire the powder in the firing pan.
- n. The gunlock used in such a weapon, having a slow smouldering match, see: slow match.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. An old form of gunlock containing a match for firing the priming; hence, a musket fired by means of a match.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The earliest form of musket-lock, constructed so as to be fired by means of a match in the form of a cord.
- n. A musket furnished with a match-lock; a gun fired by means of a lighted match.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. an early style of musket; a slow-burning wick would be lowered into a hole in the breech to ignite the charge
Firing had ceased; to load a matchlock was a long affair, and though the attackers might have divided and come forward in relays with loaded weapons, they would have run the risk of hitting their own friends.
A bearded ruffian, whose only costume was a flannel shirt and a pair of seedy check trousers, but whose eye was as keen as a hawk's, and whose shining "matchlock" had seventeen notches  along its stock, caught the subaltern's query.
They were apparently fairly well supplied with them, of either the "matchlock" or "snaphance"
"The firing of a matchlock was to be our signal that my men held the upper end of the pass, and were descending on our enemies.
I am also familiar with the wheellock, Snaphaunce (early flint design with a seperate frizzen) and the matchlock.
The flintlock and percussion are themselves evolutions of the wheellock and matchlock.
When gunpowder warfare became general by the seventeenth century, it introduced to the battlefield men carrying explosives on their belts, holding dangerous firearms and, in the early matchlock days, smoldering cords.
Earlier matchlocks, which required a lit match held in a “matchlock” to fire, and the even earlier hand culverins, which required manual application of a lit match, are still in circulation but no regular forces use them.
Yes, I deliberately advanced past the first couple gens of weapons (hand fired and matchlock) as a design choice for a couple reasons.
I am not going to go into a lengthy dissertation regarding the small arms race, but I am going to jump to the present and state that I would prefer to face any Mexican cartel flunkies breaking into my home with my M-14 or AR-15 than with a matchlock rifle or a bow and arrows.