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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Quotas or not, the 1.2 million barrel a day output cut of the OPEC+ group came from an elevated level. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Oil Market Will Test OPEC’s Newfound Credibility," 18 Jan. 2019 Forensics experts determined that the first two bodies were of an adult female and a younger girl, while the second barrel contained the bodies of two young girls. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Two bodies were discovered in a barrel deep in a New Hampshire forest," 18 Nov. 2018 Trump’s tweet offered no timeframe for the additional 2 million barrels — whether that meant per day or per month. Ken Thomas And Jon Gambrell,, "Trump claims Saudi Arabia will boost oil production," 30 June 2018 Trump's tweet offered no timeframe for the additional 2 million barrels — whether that meant per day or per month. NBC News, "Trump claims Saudi Arabia will boost oil production," 30 June 2018 William Villalongo welded a baby doll head onto the barrel of a gun, and placed the artwork on a soft red pillow. Susan Dunne,, "Artists #UNLOAD In Gun Exhibit At Fairfield University," 26 June 2018 Its original caption: Sighting along the barrel of a Civil War Savage Navy revolver is Miss Diane Gash, 17 years old, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Gash, 1416 Northern boulevard, Independence. kansascity, "A Kansas City Museum clerk examines a Civil War-era revolver," 20 June 2018 Domestic oil production has increased every year since 2008, except for a 5.6 percent drop in 2016 after prices plunged to below $30 a barrel, from more than $100 in 2014. Brooks Jackson,, "Trump's Numbers (Second Quarterly Update) | FactCheck," 11 July 2018 The barrels, which reportedly originated from the Rhineland, are each 35 inches wide. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Archaeologists Unseal 17th-Century Danish Latrines to Discover Copenhageners’ Dietary Habits," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Donna Shalala, who served as health and human services secretary under President Bill Clinton and later as president of the University of Miami, barreled into the primary and raised more than $1 million in just a few weeks. Sean Sullivan, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s choice and a liberal favorite win Florida gubernatorial nominations," 28 Aug. 2018 Authorities eventually forced the crowd to disperse, but chaos erupted again when a car barreled into the crowd, killing Heather Heyer. Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, "Antifa's violent confrontations with police, journalists mar otherwise peaceful rally counterprotesters," 13 Aug. 2018 Since barreling into the mainstream last year, XXXTentacion had become one of rap’s biggest and most controversial new stars, with a No. 1 album and a fervent congregation of young fans. New York Times, "XXXTentacion Signed $10 Million Album Deal Before His Death," 8 July 2018 The rebel fighters came early, barreling into the rural Liberian village of Bakiedou just after dawn and rousting locals from their homes at gunpoint. Jeremy Roebuck,, "'The only good Krahn man is a dead Krahn man': How culpable is Delco resident for ethnic atrocities in Liberia?," 22 June 2018 Remember, this is the same guy two weeks ago who came barreling into second base against Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, trying to avenge Anthony Rizzo’s hard slide earlier in the series, triggering a bench-clearing incident. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Old school baseball: Pirates-Diamondbacks beanball handled perfectly," 12 June 2018 As of Thursday, when the statehouse held hearings on the plan, New Jersey Democrats were still barreling ahead. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "New Jersey Democrats have a new gerrymandering plan. It is indefensible — and national Democrats need to stop it.," 14 Dec. 2018 As the tsunami barreled toward the city, waves were amplified by the narrowing channel and rising seabed, driving the water more than 19 feet high in some places as waves smashed onto shore. Ben Otto, WSJ, "Scramble to Rescue Survivors of Indonesia Quake and Tsunami as Death Toll Rises," 30 Sep. 2018 Yet even as Mekunu barreled overhead, the eye of the storm provided a moment's respite early Saturday morning. Jon Gambrell,, "5 dead, 30 missing after powerful cyclone strikes Oman, Yemen," 26 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about barrel

Statistics for barrel

Last Updated

29 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barrel

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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)

US, informal : 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


esteemed in general opinion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!