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

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 Their solution was allowing groups of people to visit the winery to select and purchase a barrel of RainSong wine for a very reasonable price. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 10 Jan. 2022 Power would be transferred peacefully, never at the tip of a spear or the barrel of a gun. Ayushi Agarwal, ABC News, 6 Jan. 2022 Brent oil, the main driver of prices at the pump, is expected to average $70 a barrel in 2020. Matt Egan, CNN, 8 Dec. 2021 City officials also wrote to McGreal, saying the barrel must have been carried away in the Gulf Stream during a major wind or storm event. Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2021 For Japan, Korea and much of Europe, natural gas prices have already climbed to levels that are considerably higher than the price for crude on a per barrel equivalent basis. David Blackmon, Forbes, 3 Oct. 2021 Crude oil prices have stayed close to $70 a barrel since the storm, despite the disruption to a part of the country that is critical for extracting and refining fossil fuels., 2 Sep. 2021 Since the beginning of August, the price of futures contracts for West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark for U.S. crude, has dropped under $70 a barrel. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Sep. 2021 Even more intriguing, the barrel is positioned in the upper portion of the dial—just above a white gold micro-rotor which harnesses energy from the motion of the owner’s wrist. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 30 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The administration is seeking to head off major disruptions in schools as the omicron variant is expected to barrel into the upcoming holiday season. NBC News, 18 Dec. 2021 Quiet, at times gruff, Unser was considered one of the smartest drivers on the track, a man with endless reservoirs of patience and a savvy sense for when to hold back and when to barrel ahead. New York Times, 10 Dec. 2021 Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, the team’s two best players, prefer to barrel to the hoop rather than finesse a foul. Stefan Bondy,, 31 Oct. 2021 Suga's approval ratings keep dropping, tied to Japan's slow rollout of vaccines and to his unpopular decision to barrel ahead with the Olympics despite opinion polls showing many Japanese opposed. Stephen Wade, ajc, 26 July 2021 When the time comes, demons barrel onto Earth to mete out a grisly death sentence. Manori Ravindran, Variety, 27 Nov. 2021 The potential for showers and thunderstorms continue to loom over the Baltimore area in the next 24 hours, as tropical depression Ida barrel toward Maryland, setting the stage for heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday, forecasters say. Alex Mann,, 31 Aug. 2021 The rain train will barrel into town Sunday afternoon, bringing nearly continuous rain through the first half of the workweek. Henri Hollis, ajc, 2 Oct. 2021 Given consistent at-bats, Chang can barrel the ball with plenty of power. Bernie Pleskoff, Forbes, 7 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near barrel

barred stamp



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Statistics for barrel

Last Updated

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Barrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on barrel

Nglish: Translation of barrel for Spanish Speakers

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


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