bar·​na·​cle ˈbär-ni-kəl How to pronounce barnacle (audio)
[from a popular belief that the goose grew from the crustacean] : any of numerous marine crustaceans (subclass Cirripedia) with feathery appendages for gathering food that are free-swimming as larvae but permanently fixed (as to rocks, boat hulls, or whales) as adults
barnacled adjective

Illustration of barnacle

Illustration of barnacle
  • 1 peduncle
  • 2 cirri

Examples of barnacle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Worms, snails, clams, oysters, barnacles, mussels, sea stars, algae, and kelp all thrive here, providing food, filtering water, and producing oxygen. Kylie Mohr, The Atlantic, 24 Aug. 2023 Whales do have some luck ridding themselves of barnacles and dead skin while breaching, or jumping forcefully out of the water and crashing back down. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 May 2023 Many marine organisms, including oysters, barnacles, fish and coral, rely on ocean currents during their larval stage to find suitable habitats. The Conversation, oregonlive, 22 July 2023 Within six months of installation, the reefs teem with the oysters, barnacles, fish and crabs of Mobile Bay. Mary Helene Hall |, al, 19 July 2023 Think wild turbot from the Basque coast, thumb-size barnacles from Galicia, and the fattest red prawns straight from the Costa Brava. Matt Goulding, Travel + Leisure, 7 July 2023 Together, the photos demonstrate the dynamism of the intertidal zone, where mussels, barnacles and seaweed clamor for real estate. J. Besl, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 June 2023 The details are still being worked out, but broadly, the ASTM/HOK plan would demolish the 5,000-seat theater that now clings like a barnacle to the Garden’s underside and hangs down into the station. Curbed, 17 Apr. 2023 Using the barnacles as one of many clues, Plafker made more than 800 measurements that summer of land shoved upward. Ned Rozell | Alaska Science, Anchorage Daily News, 8 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'barnacle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English barnakille, alteration of bernake, bernekke

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of barnacle was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near barnacle

Cite this Entry

“Barnacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


bar·​na·​cle ˈbär-ni-kəl How to pronounce barnacle (audio)
: any of numerous small saltwater crustaceans with feathery outgrowths for gathering food that are free-swimming as larvae but as adults are permanently fastened (as to rocks or the bottoms of ships)
barnacled adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on barnacle

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