bar·​rel | \ ˈber-əl How to pronounce barrel (audio) , ˈba-rəl \

Definition of barrel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a round bulging vessel of greater length than breadth that is usually made of staves bound with hoops and has flat ends of equal diameter
2a : the amount contained in a barrel especially : the amount (such as 31 gallons of fermented beverage or 42 gallons of petroleum) fixed for a certain commodity used as a unit of measure
b : a great quantity
3 : a drum or cylindrical part: such as
a : the discharging tube of a gun
b : the part of a fountain pen or of a pencil containing the ink or lead
c : a cylindrical or tapering housing containing the optical components of a photographic-lens system and the iris diaphragm
d : the fuel outlet from the carburetor on a gasoline engine
e : the flat, cylindrical metal box that encloses the mainspring of a timepiece
4 : the trunk of a quadruped
on the barrel
: asking for or granting no credit
over a barrel
: at a disadvantage : in an awkward position


barreled or barrelled; barreling or barrelling

Definition of barrel (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to put or pack in a barrel

intransitive verb

: to move at a high speed or without hesitation

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Other Words from barrel


barreled \ ˈber-​əld How to pronounce barrel (audio) , ˈba-​rəld \ adjective

Examples of barrel in a Sentence

Noun Oak barrels are used for aging the wine. The price of oil is over 30 dollars a barrel. They drank a whole barrel of beer. the barrel of a gun Verb The truck went barreling down Main Street. She came running out of her office and went barreling past us down the hall.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun State Department of Revenue officials similarly expect the price for Alaska crude to gradually climb from an average of about $45 per barrel this fiscal year to the mid-$50s by 2027-28. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Positive signs for oil, tourism, but rebound will take time," 25 Dec. 2020 In April the futures price for West Texas Intermediate crude went negative, dipping to a mind-boggling -$37 per barrel. The Economist, "Year in review: finance and economics The pandemic plus lockdown added up to deep recessions," 23 Dec. 2020 West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, fell 4.2 percent to trade at $47.04 per barrel. Washington Post, "U.S. stocks sink as UK coronavirus mutation sparks alarm," 21 Dec. 2020 The international benchmark Brent oil price topped $50 per barrel this morning for the first time since March as vaccine rollouts are set to start in the U.S. and Canada. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy, presented by API: Kerry spells out climate diplomacy aims," 10 Dec. 2020 In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 41 cents to $42.83 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Arkansas Online, "Stocks open higher on Wall Street on latest vaccine hopes," 23 Nov. 2020 Washington is the country's largest producer of mint, the oil of which can be worth thousands of dollars more per barrel than crude oil. CBS News, "This week on "Sunday Morning" (November 22): The Food Issue," 19 Nov. 2020 It can be had with either a steel or carbon-fiber barrel and a stock that is fixed or with an adjustable cheekpiece. Will Brantley, Field & Stream, "The 6.5 Creedmoor Lover’s (and Hater’s) Gift Guide," 21 Dec. 2020 Initially, the group laid out a plan to exit from that drastic 9.7 million barrel cut by increasing production by 1.9 billion barrels a day beginning in January 2021. NBC News, "Why demand for oil may never again reach pre-pandemic levels," 4 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Republicans plan to barrel ahead with Barrett’s confirmation. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Republicans convene rare weekend Senate session to ensure Amy Coney Barrett's swift Supreme Court confirmation," 24 Oct. 2020 Closer to home, Jarrett Bell and I barrel down the stretch tied with 132 wins ... Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "USA TODAY Sports' Week 14 NFL picks: Steelers, Bills clash in matchup of AFC heavyweights," 11 Dec. 2020 The unique challenges of playing football amid a pandemic now barrel into the postseason. Callie Caplan, Dallas News, "Playoff-clinching, coin-flipping finales added to Dallas-area football pandemonium in year defined by chaos," 4 Dec. 2020 So, hoping to bring this pandemic to an end sooner rather than later, California is preparing to barrel ahead with mass vaccinations, starting with healthcare workers and other first responders. Erika D. Smith Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: ‘Why won’t Black folks trust us’ on COVID-19? These doctors and nurses have answers," 29 Nov. 2020 As storms barrel toward the coast, ocean water pumps them full of moisture like a tank filling with gas. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "New study shows why hurricanes stay so strong after making landfall," 11 Nov. 2020 Wilson Combat sorted this out by mating an AR-10 bolt and barrel extension to hybrid length receiver, and by creating a new cartridge. Richard Mann, Field & Stream, "The 10 Best Elk Rifles for Every Budget," 30 Sep. 2020 The staggering disparity at two of Alabama’s large universities illustrates how the coronavirus can barrel through some schools while barely affecting others, even in a state that is considered a hot spot. Washington Post, "One Alabama university stayed safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Another, 60 miles away, struggled.," 8 Oct. 2020 Instead of lowering his shoulder into two defenders to try to barrel into the endzone, Kamara takes a glancing blow and is pushed out of bounds at the 2-yard line. Jeff Nowak,, "On Alvin Kamara's smarts, Tre'Quan Smith's hustle, a Brees 'mistake': See 3 Saints film notes," 5 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barrel.' 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 barrel


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for barrel


Middle English barayl, barel, borrowed from Anglo-French barel, baril (continental Old French barril), going back to Gallo-Romance *barrīculus, probably diminutive of *barrīca "cask, barrel" — more at barricade entry 2


verbal derivative of barrel entry 1

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Time Traveler for barrel

Time Traveler

The first known use of barrel was in the 14th century

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Statistics for barrel

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Barrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for barrel


How to pronounce barrel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of barrel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a round usually wooden container with curved sides and flat ends
: the amount of something in a barrel
: the part of a gun that the bullets go through when the gun is fired



English Language Learners Definition of barrel (Entry 2 of 2)

US, informal : to move very fast and often in an uncontrolled or dangerous way


bar·​rel | \ ˈber-əl How to pronounce barrel (audio) \

Kids Definition of barrel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a round container often with curved sides that is longer than it is wide and has flat ends
2 : the amount contained in a full barrel a barrel of water
3 : something shaped like a cylinder the barrel of a gun


barreled or barrelled; barreling or barrelling

Kids Definition of barrel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move at a high speed

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