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bar·​rel ˈber-əl How to pronounce barrel (audio)
: 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
: 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
: a great quantity
: a drum or cylindrical part: such as
: the discharging tube of a gun
: the part of a fountain pen or of a pencil containing the ink or lead
: a cylindrical or tapering housing containing the optical components of a photographic-lens system and the iris diaphragm
: the fuel outlet from the carburetor on a gasoline engine
: the flat, cylindrical metal box that encloses the mainspring of a timepiece
: the trunk of a quadruped
ˈber-əld How to pronounce barrel (audio)


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barreled or barrelled; barreling or barrelling

transitive verb

: to put or pack in a barrel

intransitive verb

: to move at a high speed or without hesitation
on the barrel
: asking for or granting no credit
over a barrel
: at a disadvantage : in an awkward position

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Attachments include a smoothing dryer, 1.2-inch curling barrel, 1.6-inch barrel, soft smoothing brush, firm smoothing brush, and round volumizing brush. Melanie Fincher, Southern Living, 9 Sep. 2023 Brent crude, the global benchmark, gained 1.8% to trade above $90 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the US benchmark, rose by a similar margin to $87 a barrel. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 6 Sep. 2023 Russian news agency Tass quoted Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister and former energy minister, as saying Moscow would continue its 300,000 barrel a day cut. Jon Gambrell, USA TODAY, 6 Sep. 2023 Yardeni also noted that earlier this week Saudi Arabia extended its voluntary crude production cuts of 1 million barrels per day through year-end, which could cut oil supply. Bywill Daniel, Fortune, 6 Sep. 2023 The Biden administration in March approved development of the prospect, estimated to hold 600 million barrels of oil. Yereth Rosen, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Sep. 2023 This medium-caliber weapon can reach out to between 2.5 and 3.7 miles, penetrate non-tank armored vehicles, and sustain fire at one round per second (though, after 40-50 rounds, the barrel must be cooled with a hydraulic pump). Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 2 Sep. 2023 Hazy imperial/double/triple IPAs, up more than 2 million barrels from 2022 levels, and imperial/double/triple IPAs, gaining about 500,000 barrels. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Sep. 2023 Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler in Blue Blush $600 at Dyson Treat her to a limited edition of Dyson’s famed Airwrap styler, complete with barrels for full waves, brushes for creating shape, and a pretty storage case to keep them all organized—all updated with blush hardware. Gaby Keiderling, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 Aug. 2023
Other numbers to know 75 mph: The sustained strength of winds in Hurricane Idalia’s system, as the storm barrels toward Florida. Chuck Todd, NBC News, 29 Aug. 2023 California is notorious for drought and fire, not tropical storms like Hilary that barreled over Los Angeles this week. Justine Calma, The Verge, 22 Aug. 2023 After days of urgent warnings, Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall in Baja California on Sunday, turning roads into rivers and imperiling homes before barreling north toward Southern California. Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times, 21 Aug. 2023 As the storm barreled through, covering roadways with debris and water, roads were blocked across Southern California by Sunday night. Nouran Salahieh, CNN, 21 Aug. 2023 Now the state could see another tropical storm make landfall as Hurricane Hilary barrels toward Baja California and the U.S. Southwest. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, 18 Aug. 2023 Police and fire agencies across the region were beefing up staffing as the storm barrels north. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Aug. 2023 Hurricane Idalia is barreling toward Florida and is expected to affect a large portion of the state and bring a massive storm surge. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 29 Aug. 2023 Their final preseason game is Saturday in Kansas City and Week 1 against Cincinnati is barreling toward them. Dan Labbe, cleveland, 22 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'barrel.' 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 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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near barrel

Cite this Entry

“Barrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
bar·​rel ˈbar-əl How to pronounce barrel (audio)
: a round bulging container that is longer than it is wide and has flat ends
: the amount held by a barrel
: a great quantity
a barrel of laughs
: a part shaped like a cylinder or tube
gun barrel
the barrel of a carburetor
barreled adjective


2 of 2 verb
barreled or barrelled; barreling or barrelling
: to travel at a high speed
barreling down the highway

More from Merriam-Webster on barrel

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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