bar·​rel | \ˈber-əl, 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

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, ˈba-​rəld \ adjective

Examples of barrel in a Sentence


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


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

More recently, 52 people were sickened when around 7 tons of the common chemical additive C9 leaked while workers were loading barrels onto a ship in Fujian province on Nov. 4. Christopher Bodeen, The Seattle Times, "22 dead in blast outside northern China chemical plant," 28 Nov. 2018 The Saudis announced they would unilaterally cut output by half a million barrels, only to be undercut by their Russian counterpart. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "OPEC Heads for an Awkward Meeting," 23 Nov. 2018 Reformation is constructing a five-barrel brewhouse in the 6,000-square-foot Elm Street building. David Ibata, ajc, "Woodstock streets to close for brewery work," 13 July 2018 The five-barrel production system will allow the company to create more small-batch, specialized beers unavailable anywhere else. Ben Brazil,, "San Clemente’s Left Coast Brewing Co. opens an Irvine location," 12 July 2018 Next up, bona fide country man Chris Stapleton — whose band featured Nashville superproducer Dave Cobb — wowed the pro-country crowd with his thick-and-rich baritone as sweetly rugged as a bourbon barrel stave. Michael Rietmulder, The Seattle Times, "Review: Joe Walsh’s VetsAid was a familial star-powered party at Tacoma Dome, raising $1.2 million," 12 Nov. 2018 Real talk: sometimes the process of achieving bouncy, barrel waves with a curling iron is, well, a process. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "The Viral Water Bottle Challenge Is Instagram's New Favorite Beauty Trend," 11 Nov. 2018 One part of this upgrade: a gun barrel nearly as long as a telephone pole. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army’s New Howitzer Barrel is Ridiculously Long," 17 Oct. 2018 Lebermann discovered that the most indigenous method—which is known as earth plaster—involves fermenting barrel-cactus pads in water, creating an adhesive that is added to the local mud. Rima Suqi, ELLE Decor, "How an Abandoned Texas Home Is Restored Into an Ethereal Country Getaway," 20 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Jack’s skeletons are about to come barreling out of the closet, because Kevin is going to Vietnam. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Episode Recaps," 31 Oct. 2018 Fake government workers on Tuesday forced residents and businesses to leave evacuation zones in Virginia as Hurricane Florence continued to barrel toward the state, officials said. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence brings out fake government workers in Virginia: report," 13 Sep. 2018 The forces involved in containing a small explosion in a large steel tube exert a tremendous amount of heat and pressure, contributing to barrel fatigue. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Army Is About to More Than Double the Range of Its Howitzers," 1 Mar. 2017 The latest trend sweeping (or barreling toward) the nation, by way of Canada, has participants gathering with friends to hang out and yes, throw a hatchet at a wooden target. Leah Prinzivalli, SELF, "Axe Throwing: the Hot New Happy Hour Alternative and Low-Key Workout," 20 July 2018 Goins picked it up and tossed to third base, where Springer barreled in. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Carlos Correa's walkoff single in 12th inning lifts Astros over Royals," 23 June 2018 As the engineers worked, and the performers slept, an empty train used to transport soldiers to the East Coast for subsequent deployment to the warfront in Europe came barreling down the main track. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The Hammond Train Wreck of 1918 Killed Scores of Circus Performers," 22 June 2018 Then came James, barreling down the paint after throwing a pass to himself off the backboard. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Kevin Durant Pulls Warriors Closer to Another N.B.A. Title," 7 June 2018 The driver who barreled onto the walkway, Nathan Campbell, had steered around a set of bollards that were meant to block cars from getting onto Ocean Front Walk. Emily Alpert Reyes,, "L.A. to pay up to $14 million to settle lawsuits over deadly Venice Beach boardwalk crash," 5 June 2018

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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Statistics for barrel

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barrel

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

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More Definitions for barrel



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)

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


bar·​rel | \ˈber-əl \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on barrel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with barrel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barrel

Spanish Central: Translation of barrel

Nglish: Translation of barrel for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on barrel

What made you want to look up barrel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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