Word of the Day: match

Word of the Day
August 11, 2016
match (noun, verb)
/mætʃ/  sound icon
A box of matches
A match is a thin piece of wood with a chemical substance in its tip that produces fire when rubbed against a surface. A match is also a person or a thing that resembles or equals another in some way. It can also be someone that can cope with or treat someone or something else as an equal. In addition, a match is one of a corresponding pair and, in sports, a match is a competition between two teams. As a verb, to match means 'to equal or be equal' or 'to correspond to something or someone.' Match also means 'to fit together' or 'to be equal.'

 

Example sentences
 
Esther struck a match and lit the fire.
Taylor and Jamie both like literature, so they're a good match.
The boss is very demanding, but Oliver is a match for him.
I was really pleased to find a match for my single candlestick in an antique store; now I have a pair.
Are you going to see the match tonight? My favorite team is playing!
The candidate's skills match the requirements of the job.
This jacket matches my skirt.
To put a puzzle together, you have to find the pieces that match.

 

Words often used with match
 
a match made in heaven: two people who are very well suited to each other. Example: "Those two are so in love; it's a match made in heaven!" This can also be used sarcastically. 
 
Multi-word forms
 
meet your match: encounter someone who is your equal or, perhaps, better than you. Example: "Mark always likes to think he is smarter than everyone else, but the new guy is really clever; I think Mark has met his match!"
 
match up to: be equal to, be good enough for. Example: "Thank you for giving me the job; I hope I will be able to match up to your expectations."
 
Did you know?
 
In the UK, when we talk about sports, the words match and game are synonymous, except that a match always has a competitive element to it, whereas a game might be something just played between friends for fun, with no one really keeping score. In the US it is much more common to say game for most sports. For example, in the US we go to football and baseball games, and in the UK there are football and cricket matches. However, people in the US do use match for some sports, like tennis (eg, "Venus and Serena Williams lost an early doubles match at the Olympics.").
 
Other forms
 
matchable (adjective), mismatched (adjective), matchmaker (noun)
 
Origin
 
Match, meaning 'the wick of a lamp,' first appeared in the late 14th century, as the Middle English macche, adapted from the Middle French meiche. However, the roots of the word can be traced much further back, all the way to Ancient Greek, where mýxa, meaning 'mucus,' also came to mean the 'wick or nozzle on a lamp' (some speculate that this was because it hangs off the tip, like mucus on the tip of someone's nose). The Greek word was adapted into the Latin myxa, now just meaning 'lamp wick,' and later Vulgar Latin turned it into mesca. In addition to French, many other Romance language words for wick (like the Spanish mecha) can be traced back to the same root. Match further evolved to mean 'the splinter of wood or piece of fabric used to light a lamp or fire' in the 16th century. Matches, as we know them, were first sold in the 19th century.
 
The other meaning of match, 'one of a pair, companion, equal,' has a completely different origin. It first appeared in Old English, before the year 1000, as mæcca, from gemæcca, an adjective meaning to be 'equals, a pair, well-suited,' and came from the Proto-Germanic *gamakon, meaning 'fitting well together.' By the time Middle English came around, its spelling had evolved into macche, and its meaning had widened to the one we understand today. The verb came from the noun, and was first used in the late 14th century.
 
 
 
 
 
Match in other languages
 
 
 
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