From Middle English barrell, from Anglo-Norman baril, Old French baril, bareil (“barrel”), of uncertain origin. An attempt to link baril to Old French barre (“bar, bolt”) (compare Medieval Latin barra (“bar, rod”)) via assumed Vulgar Latin *barrīculum meets the phonological requirement, but fails to connect the word semantically. The alternate connection to Frankish *baril, *beril or Gothic 𐌱𐌴𐍂𐌹𐌻𐍃 (bērils, “container for transport”), from Proto-Germanic *barilaz (“barrel, jug, container”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰer-, *bʰrē- (“to carry, transport”), is more plausible as it connects not only the form of the word but also the sense; equivalent to bear + -le. Compare also Old High German biril (“jug, large pot”), Luxembourgish Bärel, Bierel (“jug, pot”), Old Norse berill (“barrel for liquids”), Old English byrla (“barrel of a horse, trunk, body”). More at bear.
- IPA(key): /ˈbæɹəl/, [ˈbæɹəɫ]
Audio (US) (file)
- IPA(key): /ˈbɛəɹəl/, [ˈbɛɚɹəɫ]
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -æɹəl
barrel (plural barrels)
- (countable) A round vessel or cask, of greater length than breadth, and bulging in the middle, made of staves bound with hoops, and having flat ends or heads. Sometimes applied to a similar cylindrical container made of metal, usually called a drum.
2013 August 3, “Yesterday’s fuel”, The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
- The dawn of the oil age was fairly recent. Although the stuff was used to waterproof boats in the Middle East 6,000 years ago, extracting it in earnest began only in 1859 after an oil strike in Pennsylvania. The first barrels of crude fetched $18 (around $450 at today’s prices).
- a cracker barrel
- The quantity which constitutes a full barrel. This varies for different articles and also in different places for the same article, being regulated by custom or by law. A barrel of wine is 31 ½ gallons; a barrel of flour is 196 pounds; of beer 31 gallons; of ale 32 gallons; of crude oil 42 gallons.
1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, volume 4, page 205:
- A solid drum, or a hollow cylinder or case;
- the barrel of a windlass; the barrel of a watch, within which the spring is coiled.
- A metallic tube, as of a gun, from which a projectile is discharged.
- (archaic) A tube.
- (zoology) The hollow basal part of a feather.
- (music) The part of a clarinet which connects the mouthpiece and upper joint, and looks rather like a barrel (1).
- (surfing) A wave that breaks with a hollow compartment.
- (US, specifically New England) A waste receptacle.
- Throw it away in the trash barrel.
- The ribs and belly of a horse or pony.
- (obsolete) A jar.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Bible, 1 Kings xvii. 12 to this entry?)
- (biology) Any of the dark-staining regions in the somatosensory cortex of rodents, etc., where somatosensory inputs from the contralateral side of the body come in from the thalamus.
- (transitive) To put or to pack in a barrel or barrels.
- (intransitive) To move quickly or in an uncontrolled manner.
- He came barrelling around the corner and I almost hit him.
2012 July 23, John Branch, “Snow Fall : The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, New York Time:
- Snow shattered and spilled down the slope. Within seconds, the avalanche was the size of more than a thousand cars barreling down the mountain and weighed millions of pounds.