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

  • n. Wood in small pieces or splinters suitable especially for making matches.
  • n. Splinters: The vessel was beaten to matchwood on the rocks.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. wood, often in the form of splinters, suitable for making matches

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. wood in small pieces or splinters.
  • n. Wood suitable for making matchsticks.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Wood in any form, whether in logs, scantlings, or boards, adapted to and designed for use in the manufacture of matches.
  • n. Wood which has been sawn, or sawn and split, to the proper size for matches.
  • n. As a figure of speech, wood which has been broken or splintered into very fine pieces.

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

  • n. fragments of wood
  • n. wood suitable for making matchsticks
  • n. wood in small pieces or splinters


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • But nothing of the kind was visible, and the spars, masts, and other wreckage which had reached the rocks had been shattered into "matchwood" by frequent gales.

    The Coxswain's Bride also, Jack Frost and Sons; and, A Double Rescue

  • Her hair is cross-parted by sleep, blonde as matchwood.

    The Right Thing

  • "My new fear was that the paddle-boxes would be stove into matchwood this actually happened to the Ostend boat that same night about 40 miles away and naked paddle wheels are rather dangerous things."


  • The on-loan striker brushed opponents aside like they were matchwood, surged forward as unstoppably as a tidal bore, set up one goal, blasted home another.

    How Hotshot Hamish put the mockers on me at Hartlepool

  • It is the point of the evening: that moment when everything is blown apart, when the stack of chairs that have been tumbled like matchwood at the back of the stage take on a meaning, while the lives of the characters are shattered and jumbled.

    One Night in November; Macbeth; Novecento

  • The guns of the Thunder Child sounded through the reek, going off one after the other, and one shot splashed the water high close by the steamer, ricocheted towards the other flying ships to the north, and smashed a smack to matchwood.

    The War of The Worlds

  • The Orkney makes the very similar Ashford Traveller look like it was built out of matchwood, tbh.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • One shot from the rifled ten-inch guns mounted along its sides and the smaller ships would be matchwood.

    Sun of Suns

  • The walls were as thin as matchwood, and to hide the cracks they had been covered with layer after layer of pink paper, which had come loose and housed innumerable bugs.

    Down and Out in the World

  • The long-boat changed, as if by magic, into matchwood where she stood in her gripes.

    Youth, by Joseph Conrad


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