One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A slow-burning wick or cord for lighting explosives.
- ‘Ignition is by a burning slow match (nitrated cord), which is clamped into the ‘serpentine.’’
- ‘In the matchlock system, a length of smouldering slow match, instead of being held in the hand, was held in the jaws of a swivelling double-curved bar called a serpentine and brought to the touch-hole by operating a trigger.’
- ‘Hornblower made his way next to the stairs to light the slow match.’
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