a small box, usually of cardboard, for matches.

Origin of matchbox

First recorded in 1780–90; match1 + box1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for matchbox

Contemporary Examples of matchbox

Historical Examples of matchbox

  • Without waking his companions he found a matchbox and lit the cigarette.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • Then he fumbled about in the darkness for a lamp and matchbox.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • But Davy had brought out his matchbox, and was striking a light.

  • He extended his hand to put back the matchbox in its corner of the shelf.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Entering the other, he felt all over his table for the matchbox.

    Under Western Eyes

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for matchbox



a small box for holding matches
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for matchbox

also match-box, 1786, from match (n.1) + box (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper