bar·​na·​cle | \ ˈbär-ni-kəl How to pronounce barnacle (audio) \

Definition of barnacle

2 [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

Illustration of barnacle

Illustration of barnacle

barnacle 2: 1 peduncle, 2 cirri

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Other Words from barnacle

barnacled \ ˈbär-​ni-​kəld How to pronounce barnacle (audio) \ adjective

Examples of barnacle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web If wave action is heavy, barnacle penises can thicken in both the muscles and the surrounding tissue, and the length can increase through the addition of more rings to the penile Slinky. Emily Willingham, Wired, "Does a Millipede Have a Penis? Well ... Define 'Penis'," 22 Sep. 2020 Love-blind barnacles whispering sweet nothings into the Buffoon-in-chief’s bum. J.d. Crowe |, al, "Alabama GOP Sycophant race: Kiss-off between Sessions and Tuberville," 4 Mar. 2020 Likely to a temp job of her own, sitting in for some other barnacle. Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "‘Temporary’ Is a Debut Novel That Leans Into the Absurdity of How We Work Now," 25 Feb. 2020 Black, spherical, and several feet across, the object is encrusted with barnacles and marine algae. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Mysterious Military Mine Washes Ashore in North Carolina," 25 Mar. 2020 That’s because microbes like bacteria and archaea coat surfaces in a sticky layer, a biofilm, that functions as a chemical and physical come-hither call for larger creatures such as barnacles and coral, Dr. Hamdan said. Katherine Kornei, New York Times, "Microbes Point the Way to Shipwrecks," 21 Feb. 2020 Everything’s just gone — crabs, oysters, barnacles, and plankton. Tim Pearce, Washington Examiner, "Florida mayor pleads for help after city swamped in 211M gallons of sewage," 18 Feb. 2020 The greater variety of seaweeds, barnacles, and other filter feeders will, in turn, attract larger creatures, like crabs and fish, creating a vibrant ecosystem. Lindsey J. Smith, Smithsonian, "Designing Floating Buildings With an Eye to the Marine Species Living Underneath," 7 Oct. 2019 Know of a 50-year-old schooner collecting barnacles somewhere? Tyler Blint-welsh, WSJ, "New York City Hunts for Historic Ship for Waterfront Park," 16 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barnacle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of barnacle

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for barnacle

Middle English barnakille, alteration of bernake, bernekke

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Time Traveler for barnacle

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Barnacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce barnacle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of barnacle

: a kind of small shellfish that attaches itself to rocks and the bottoms of boats underwater


bar·​na·​cle | \ ˈbär-ni-kəl How to pronounce barnacle (audio) \

Kids Definition of barnacle

: a small saltwater crustacean that becomes permanently attached (as to rocks or the bottoms of boats) as an adult

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More from Merriam-Webster on barnacle

Nglish: Translation of barnacle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barnacle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about barnacle

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