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
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 barreled (audio) , 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

But the bottom-of-the-barrel grosses of the best director nominees indicate there’s a decent chance that this year could be the 15th in a row in which the best picture winner grossed less than $200 million. Ben Fritz, WSJ, "To Handicap Best Picture, Check Out This Other Oscar Category," 22 Jan. 2019 So, The New Yorker scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with this. Fox News, "Daines slams Dems' 'desperation tactics' against Kavanaugh," 24 Sep. 2018 There’s the Nomar Garciaparra bat that has ball marks all centered on the sweet spot of the barrel. Stan Grossfeld,, "This guy has 757 Red Sox bats, and each one tells a story," 5 July 2018 Every few minutes, the whir of a machine starting up can be heard in the background and a loud cheer goes up when someone lands a sick ariel or pops out of a barrel. Hemal Jhaveri, For The Win, "How Kelly Slater took surfing out of the ocean and onto dry land," 3 July 2018 Factors such as intensity of bass and beats per minute increase the rate at which the liquor vibrates against the oak wood of the barrel. Brad Japhe, Billboard, "How Distilleries Use Hip-Hop, EDM and Reggae to Age Booze," 20 June 2018 The United States is now producing almost 11 million barrels of oil a day and selling it abroad. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Offshore Mega-Terminals Are Coming Because Oil Supertankers Are Too Big for Our Ports," 14 Sep. 2018 So given that the pipeline carries more than three million barrels a day, any disruption means supplies are short. Fox News, "Former NYSE chair on reopening Stock Exchange after 9/11," 12 Sep. 2018 Riyadh claims to have two million barrels a day of spare production capacity, but analysts say the kingdom can realistically add only about one million barrels to its daily output without additional drilling. Stanley Reed, New York Times, "Saudi Arabia Promised More Oil. So Why Are Prices Rising?," 4 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On Sunday morning, Mangkhut was barreling toward densely populated southern China and Hong Kong, where authorities raised the highest storm warnings and moved nearly a half-million people to shelter from seven cities. Fox News, "Typhoon Mangkhut death toll climbs in Philippines," 15 Sep. 2018 But Holter’s train still is barreling down the track called mortality. Chris Jones,, "'The Light Fantastic' is Ike Holter's 'Stranger Things' kind of thriller," 16 May 2018 Preparations for a high-risk North Korea summit are barreling forward. Time, "John Bolton Takes the Lead as National Security Adviser as Tensions Mount Abroad," 10 Apr. 2018 In the third inning of Wednesday’s game, Kemp barreled over Chirinos at home while trying to score. Bill Shaikin,, "Dodgers' Matt Kemp shocked by one-game suspension," 16 June 2018 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

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

12 Mar 2019

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)

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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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 reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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