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From Middle Dutch *vierdekijn, diminutive of vierde ‎(fourth),[1] from vier ‎(four), equivalent to fourth +‎ -kin.



firkin ‎(plural firkins)

  1. (Britain) A varying measure of capacity, usually being the fourth part of a barrel; specifically, a measure equal to nine imperial gallons. [Eng.]
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, Volume 4, p. 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.
  2. (US) A small wooden vessel or cask of indeterminate size, -- used for butter, lard, etc.
  3. A weight measure for butter, equalling 56 pounds.


  1. ^ firkin” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).