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

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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

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 Despite a recent recovery to $40 a barrel, the price of oil has fallen sharply this year because of excess supply and a sharp drop in demand caused by worldwide stay-at-home orders. Matt Egan, CNN, "Fracking trailblazer Chesapeake Energy becomes the biggest oil and gas bankruptcy of the pandemic," 28 June 2020 Until last week, oil had been below $40 per barrel since March. Michael Taylor,, "Taylor: Property taxes a problem without a solution for business owners," 26 June 2020 In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 12 cents to $38.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Jessica Menton, USA TODAY, "Stocks falter as bank shares, Nike decline," 26 June 2020 Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 31 cents to $40.22 per barrel. Washington Post, "World stocks mostly slide on new coronavirus cases," 25 June 2020 The Fosco’s Modern Elixir ($19) is a nod to the bartender at the heart of Negroni’s origin with 30-day barrel-aged Plymouth gin, Genepy, and Antiqua sweet vermouth. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Here are 22 restaurants and bars with to-go cocktails around metro Phoenix," 22 June 2020 Oil prices climbed Friday, sending U.S. crude back near $40 a barrel with traders hopeful that global fuel demand will rebound more quickly than anticipated. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Oil Prices Rise Above $40 on Demand Hopes," 19 June 2020 With oil hovering around $60 per barrel, nothing seemed to phase investors. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Apple is now worth more than the combined value of the oil and gas majors," 19 June 2020 Charles Krug soon became known for quality and innovations in the cellar, thanks to the work of the two Mondavi sons, Robert and Peter, who introduced techniques like cold fermentations and oak-barrel aging. Virginie Boone,, "Charles Krug: Drink in the history at Napa’s Valley’s oldest tasting room," 9 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Christopher, age 8, was killed more than two decades ago, by a truck barreling through a crosswalk in front of his elementary school. Karen Weintraub, STAT, "Her son died. Two decades later, she met the medical student who got his heart," 13 Mar. 2020 Last Tuesday, a Gemballa Mirage GT barrelled into a series of parked cars on a Manhattan street. Alex Davies, Wired, "The Pandemic Could Be an Opportunity to Remake Cities," 13 Apr. 2020 While most were plain-barreled, 2 ¾ inch guns, the Heavy Duck model, with its solid rib, three-inch chamber, and steel magazine plug for extra weight, was the ultimate in waterfowl weaponry until the 3 ½-inch magnum came along. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "15 Best Duck and Goose Guns Ever," 17 Sep. 2019 Mark Jackson spotted Miller barreling toward him and tossed the ball in. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Inside Madison Square Garden when Reggie Miller's 8 points in 8.9 seconds echoed round the world," 2 May 2020 With the country barreling toward a likely recession ahead of November's election, Trump is eager to spur an economic revival, hoping to steady financial markets and restore some of the 16 million jobs already lost due to the pandemic. Jonathan Lemire, Fortune, "Trump rules out Ivanka and Jared as he prepares to announce members of new panel to open U.S. economy," 14 Apr. 2020 With the front-runner looking suddenly diminished, voters cast their eyes left and right for options — like a quarterback trying to get rid of the ball while beefy linebackers are barreling toward him. Mona Charen, National Review, "Biden’s Second Chance," 4 Mar. 2020 Suddenly a passing sedan spun out of control and barreled toward the two men. Doug Phillips,, "Hit by a car and tossed in the air - now he’s FHP’s Trooper of the Year," 4 Dec. 2019 Bryant continued his pursuit toward the sideline, and Pappoe came barreling upfield toward Plumlee as the quarterback scrambled to make a decision. Tom Green |, al, "‘Protect the house’: Auburn defense steps up late, seals win vs. Ole Miss with interception," 3 Nov. 2019

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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Statistics for barrel

Last Updated

1 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for barrel


How to pronounce barrel (audio)

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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