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

The use of unguided weapons in populated areas, like the barrel bombs dropped by the Syrian regime, looks like deliberate brutality. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "Why the U.S. Is Backing Killer Robots," 14 Sep. 2018 Coffee prices start at $3; a barrel-aged coffee is $4. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Vennture Brew Co. brings coffee and beer to Washington Heights neighborhood," 11 July 2018 Its parent company AB InBev has purchased a portfolio of craft breweries over the last seven years, including Goose Island Beer Co., which has a large consumer following for its barrel-aged Bourbon County Brand stouts. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Guinness looks to tap into craft beer creativity with new US brewery, opening Aug. 3," 29 June 2018 Media: WGAL Brent, the European benchmark, slipped to less than $73 a barrel Thursday on expectations the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would raise production. James Osborne, Houston Chronicle, "Fears of oil shortage hang over OPEC meeting," 22 June 2018 In addition to some of Freetail’s standard beers, the taproom also features beers from its Ghost Pixel series and the occasional barrel-aged rarities. San Antonio Express-News, "Father’s Day pairs best with a great beer," 14 June 2018 And if your dog has a barrel chest, make sure your dog is on its back before putting one hand over the widest part of their sternum. Korin Miller, SELF, "Katy Perry Says Her Assistant Saved Her Dog With CPR," 7 June 2018 Next, Marjan blows small sections of hair using a round ceramic brush (a ceramic barrel on the brush makes hair shiny and easier to smooth) in an out-and-around motion, making sure there’s a narrow nozzle on the blow dryer to direct the heat. Jillian Ruffo,, "KarJenner Hairstylist Justine Marjan Wants You to Get 5 Days Out of Your Blowout: Here's How," 31 May 2018 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

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

26 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 boil down or concentrate

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