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See also: Barrel


English Wikipedia has an article on:
English Wikipedia has an article on:
Barrels (1)
Barrels used to age wine in the cellar of a winery


From Middle English barel, 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, *bērilaz (barrel, jug, container), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰer- (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.



barrel (plural barrels)

  1. (countable) A round (cylindrical) vessel, such as a cask, of greater length than breadth, and bulging in the middle, made of staves bound with hoops, and having flat ends (heads). Sometimes applied to a similar cylindrical container made of metal, usually called a drum.
    • 2013 August 3, “Yesterday’s fuel”, in 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
    1. Such a cask of a certain size, holding one-eighth of what a tun holds. (See a diagram comparing cask sizes.)
      Hypernym: cask
      Coordinate terms: hogshead, pipe, puncheon, rundlet, tertian, tierce, tun
  2. The quantity which constitutes a full barrel: the volume or weight this represents varies by local law and custom.
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, volume 4, page 205:
      Again, by 28 Hen. VIII, cap. 14, it is re-enacted that the tun of wine should contain 252 gallons, a butt of Malmsey 126 gallons, a pipe 126 gallons, a tercian or puncheon 84 gallons, a hogshead 63 gallons, a tierce 41 gallons, a barrel 31.5 gallons, a rundlet 18.5 gallons.
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, volume 4, page 205:
      23 Hen. VIII, cap. 4... The barrel of beer is to hold 36 gallons, the kilderkin 18 gallons the firkin 9. But the barrel, kilderkin, and firkin of ale are to contain 32, 16, and 8 gallons.
  3. 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.
  4. A metallic tube, as of a gun, from which a projectile is discharged.
    • 2010, Deftones, Beauty School:
      You're shooting stars from the barrel of your eyes
  5. (television) A ceiling-mounted tube from which lights are suspended.
    • 2013, Gerald Millerson, Lighting for TV and Film, page 325:
      Moreover, it adds to difficulties in adjusting/servicing lamps located over high scenery, ceilings etc., where the barrel networks cannot be lowered or reached.
    • 2013, Brian Fitt; Joe Thornley, Lighting Technology, page 118:
      The barrel, which is usually from 2.0 m to 2.5 m long, and capable of lifting loads up to 120 kg, is suspended from the main housing which contains the motor gearbox unit, etc.
  6. (archaic) A tube.
  7. (zoology) The hollow basal part of a feather.
  8. (music) The part of a clarinet which connects the mouthpiece and upper joint, and looks rather like a barrel (1).
  9. (surfing) A wave that breaks with a hollow compartment.
  10. (US, specifically New England) A waste receptacle.
    Throw it into the trash barrel.
  11. The ribs and belly of a horse or pony.
  12. (obsolete) A jar.
  13. (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.
  14. (baseball) A statistic derived from launch angle and exit velocity of a ball hit in play.
    For quotations using this term, see Citations:barrel.


  • (cylindrical container, or cask of a certain size): bbl (abbreviation)


Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



barrel (third-person singular simple present barrels, present participle barrelling or barreling, simple past and past participle barrelled or barreled)

  1. (transitive) To put or to pack in a barrel or barrels.
  2. (intransitive) To move quickly or in an uncontrolled manner.
    He came barrelling around the corner and I almost hit him.
    • 2017 July 23, Brandon Nowalk, “The great game begins with a bang on Game Of Thrones (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      At a certain point, Game Of Thrones started barreling toward the end, cutting itself down to—contra Ian McShane—exposition and battles, and it lost too much of its life (not to be confused with “too many of its lives”).
    • 2012, John Branch, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, in New York Time[2]:
      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.
  3. (intransitive) To assume the shape of a barrel; specifically, of the image on a computer display, television, etc., to exhibit barrel distortion, where the sides bulge outwards.
    Coordinate term: pincushion


See also[edit]



Borrowed from English.



barrel m (plural barrels)

  1. Alternative form of baril