match·​lock ˈmach-ˌläk How to pronounce matchlock (audio)
: a slow-burning match lowered over a hole in the breech of a musket to ignite the charge
: a musket equipped with a matchlock

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Guns are a part of American life, and have been since the very beginning, from the matchlock muskets arming the earliest colonies to the Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles of the Old West to the Glock handgun of today. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 7 Mar. 2018 Also known Hwaseong-Chong (a matchlock gun), the SA-16 is likely meant to offset the advantage South Korean and American forces have in tactical airpower. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 4 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'matchlock.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1637, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of matchlock was circa 1637

Dictionary Entries Near matchlock

Cite this Entry

“Matchlock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


match·​lock ˈmach-ˌläk How to pronounce matchlock (audio)
: a firearm in which the charge is ignited by a slow match in a movable holder attached to the breech

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