In the book Cider with Rosie, an autobiographical coming-of-age novel written by British author Laurie Lee and published in 1959, I find the word 'candle-skin', which I tried to look up in many online dictionaries without success.

Laurie Lee is describing how he very innocently 'played doctor' with Jo at dusk, down a bank, sheltered by yew trees, lying on the grass; he must have been eleven or twelve at the time, and Jo was younger (here is the whole paragraph where this word appears):

Her body was pale and milk-green on the grass, like a birch-leaf lying in water, slightly curved like a leaf and veined and glowing, lit faintly from within its flesh. This was not Jo now but the revealed unknown, a labyrinth of naked stalks, stranger than flesh, smoother than candle-skins, like something thrown down from the moon. Time passed, and the cool limbs never moved, neither towards me nor yet away; she just turned a grass ring around her fingers and stared blindly away from my eyes. The sun fell slanting and struck the spear-tipped grass, laying tiger-stripes round her hollows, binding her body with crimson bars, and moving slow colours across her.

  • I'm pretty sure I've seen it used as a euphemism for "condom", though that meaning does not seem to fit the above passage. It is possible that it's simply a relatively localized reference to some sort of plant.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 9, 2016 at 23:32
  • It's vaguely possible that it's a reference to the candelilla plant, though that is a plant of south-western North America. But given the multiple plant references in the passage it seems likely to be some sort of plant. (And the physical description of the plant does seem to vaguely fit candelilla.)
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 10, 2016 at 1:55
  • (If you study the piece, virtually all of the allusions are to plants, strongly suggesting that "candleskin" is a type of plant. And "a labyrinth of naked stalks" fits candelilla pretty well.)
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 10, 2016 at 14:57
  • Do we not think it just means the skin of a candle? As in the outer surface? A candle's surface is usually quite smooth, and candle skin is more poetic than candle-surface, which, I don't think, anyone would be confused by
    – Unrelated
    May 9, 2016 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


I assume "candle skin" is a neologism, as it only gets two hits on Google, yours and:

...to let Air Bubbles Escape After a few minutes, when the wax starts to solidify, pierce the candle skin to release all the air trapped...

(The others are separated by a comma, etc.)

It would just seem to mean the smooth surface of the cylindrical object, used as a metaphor. Seems apt enough; he mentions her "glowing" and her "cool limbs" (that would be an unlit candle, though.)

  • I imagined dipping your fingertip in molten candle wax, letting it solidify on your fingertip, and then taking it off to feel it, play with it because it is very smooth.
    – user58319
    Apr 9, 2016 at 22:23
  • I thought of that as well (having had a paraffin manicure), but didn't see it used that way. :) Apr 9, 2016 at 22:25

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