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 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 Every barrel at Four Roses carries one of 10 (four) letter codes. Joseph V Micallef, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Recommended for those with shoulder length hair that's between 6 and 16 inches, the ceramic iron comes with a rotating barrel that can curl each strand. Lauren Rearick,, 8 Sep. 2021 The dial side reveals the escapement, a large part of the gear train and the mainspring barrel. Carol Besler, Robb Report, 8 Sep. 2021 Activities includes a straw pillow fight, a barrel race, and more. Wendy Fox Weber,, 7 Sep. 2021 Brewing, winemaking, barrel-aging and cooking will all take place in-house, with the brewery tenants sharing production equipment and cellar space. Brandon Hernández, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Sep. 2021 Hawk Knob ciders are barrel-fermented, cool and slow in the West Virginia climate, which gives them complexity and depth on par with aged wine and high-end whiskey. Sheri Castle, Travel + Leisure, 4 Sep. 2021 Most weeks, there is live music from a local group, barrel train rides, corn pit truck, and antique fire engines and tractors. Tracy Trobridge,, 3 Sep. 2021 Visit historic buildings, watch barrel making and rifle demos, with music by Bluegrass AllStars. Elaine Rewolinski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But co-manager Rick Thorning cited his team's ability to barrel the ball against Hawaii and felt confident. Brett Crossley, Detroit Free Press, 26 Aug. 2021 Fred then is forecast to barrel north through Alabama and Georgia, delivering up to 10 inches of rain. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, 16 Aug. 2021 A day later, however, the administration appeared ready to barrel through legal challenges and embrace a solution that did just that. New York Times, 3 Aug. 2021 Being able to barrel pitches, Rutschman is a very dangerous hitter from both sides of the plate, another trait that sets him apart. Bernie Pleskoff, Forbes, 7 July 2021 The brewery is currently developing experimental and barrel aged beer, but continues to offer familiar styles. Shelby Knick, Forbes, 28 May 2021 One of his most memorable moments at Whitlow’s is when his inebriated friend decided to barrel-roll down the long flight of stairs from the roof deck, and had to be carried out. Washington Post, 28 June 2021 Vanderbilt didn’t barrel a Silseth pitch until the bottom of the fourth, when Jayson Gonzalez hit a two-run, opposite-field homer on a 2-0 count. Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic, 21 June 2021 While other immune cells creep by at speeds of just a couple micrometers per minute, neutrophils can barrel through vessels 10 times as fast, and are flexible enough to squeeze themselves through spaces that span less than an eighth of their width. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 17 June 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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Buying Guide

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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

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Barrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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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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