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From barrel +‎ house. Originally used to refer specifically to a bar that served whiskey directly from the barrel.


barrelhouse (plural barrelhouses)

  1. A rough and tumble drinking establishment.
    • 2008 January 14, Ben Ratliff, “Jazz Showcase Fever Propels a Mini Marathon”, in New York Times[1]:
      It’s beautiful, but never naïvely so; the pastoral moments were offset by barrelhouse intrusions.
  2. (music) A loud, percussive type of blues piano suitable for noisy bars or taverns.
    • 1969, Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, New York: Bantam, 1971, Chapter 18, p. 111,[2]
      A barrelhouse blues was being shouted over the stamping of feet on a wooden floor. Miss Grace, the good-time woman, had her usual Saturday-night customers.


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