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A typical keg (half-barrel) with single opening in the center of the top end.

Alternative forms




From Middle English kag, from Old Norse kaggi (keg), likely a diminutive of Proto-Germanic *kagô (bush, branch, stalk, stump). Cognate with Icelandic kaggi (keg; cask), Norwegian kagg (keg), Swedish kagge (keg), Low German kag (vessel; craft), Dutch kaag (vessel; craft). Compare also English cag and chag.

The modern form keg with /ɛ/ is due to a dialectal raising of /a///æ/ to /ɛ/ before velars (cf. fleg); the expected form is preserved in dialectal /kæɡ/, while /keɪɡ/ reflects further raising that occurred in some dialects.





keg (plural kegs)

  1. A round, traditionally wooden container of lesser capacity than a barrel, often used to store beer.

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Derived terms






keg (third-person singular simple present kegs, present participle kegging, simple past and past participle kegged)

  1. (transitive) To store in a keg.
    • 2011, Carla Kelly, Coming Home for Christmas, page 116:
      He gestured toward the empty chair and the other officers began passing him their kegged beef and ship's biscuit.
    • 2015, Randy Mosher, Mastering Homebrew, page 228:
      Many of us get impatient with the tedium of bottling after a year or two and start thinking about kegging our beers instead.
  2. (UK) The pulling down of someone's trousers or kegs. Oftentimes as a kind of bullying or prank.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hans Kurath and Raven Ioor McDavid (1961). The pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States: based upon the collections of the linguistic atlas of the Eastern United States. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, p. 133.