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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That’s the day Great Lakes Brewing Co. will release their barrel-aged Christmas Ale. Courtney Astolfi, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County HR chief had planned to plead no contest to theft in office: The Wake Up for Monday, Nov. 25, 2019," 25 Nov. 2019 Brewers have long incorporated those spices into everything, from malty, amber ales, to heavily alcoholic bourbon barrel-aged stouts, to funky sour ales. Zak Stambor,, "Though pumpkin beers are falling out of favor, you can still find great pours, like Milkshake Pumpkin Spice IPA," 21 Nov. 2019 More sought-after suds arrived in the following days — fruited sours, barrel-aged stouts and juicy IPAs. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Fed up with tight regulations, Anchorage Brewing invests in full-service bar license," 26 Oct. 2019 This weekend Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company will release a rum barrel-aged beer made in collaboration with UnderTow tiki bar, as well as six other new brews. Tirion Morris, azcentral, "Arizona Wilderness will drop 7 limited release beers on Labor Day weekend. Here's the list," 30 Aug. 2019 The Reserve is barrel-aged, and the Rancio is aged outdoors in glass demijohns, an unusual approach more commonly found in Banyuls in the south of France. Fortune, "How Fruit Wines Are Becoming Serious Business," 17 Aug. 2019 All of our weapons and surgical equipment are a-hundred-per-cent locavore, barrel-aged, and urban-Zen. Alex Baia, The New Yorker, "Our Coffee Shop Is Now Also a Chocolate Boutique, a B.D.S.M. Dungeon, and a Tiger Sanctuary," 17 Aug. 2019 Nuanced floral notes and barrel-aging is best savored when these wines are served around 50-55 degrees. Sara Mae Albert, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Plan a Casual Chic Dinner Party," 2 Aug. 2019 Some batches are barrel-aged, while others are quickly canned and packaged for distribution. High School Journalism Institute,, "NW ingredients make 2 Towns Ciderhouse a fruitful business," 20 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Shivers barreled into the end zone to give Auburn its 48-45 lead with 8:08 left in the game. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Auburn, Gus Malzahn seize control of Iron Bowl rivalry," 1 Dec. 2019 Durgin barreled his vehicle through the traffic cones, striking an Onset firefighter with such force that he was thrown 40 feet, the district attorney’s office said., "A Sandwich man who seriously injured an Onset firefighter in a hit-and-run during a snowstorm in Wareham last year was sentenced to up to six years behind bars, according to the Plymouth district attorney’s office.," 24 Nov. 2019 After both teams punted to start the third quarter, Navy fullback Nelson Smith barreled 77 yards inside the UConn 5-yard line, leading to a touchdown dive by Perry. Alex Putterman,, "UConn dominated in second half, Navy rolls to 56-10 victory," 1 Nov. 2019 Too many other teams have barreled into the fast lane. Bruce Jenkins,, "As the Warriors regroup, who will win the NBA title?," 20 Oct. 2019 Pyroclastic flows: Blistering-hot avalanches of gasses, rocks, and volcanic ash can barrel down a volcano’s slopes, burying structures, sparking fires, and destroying everything in their path. Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, "Volcano Safety Tips," 20 Oct. 2019 Far closer, a gang of 30 to 40 dark javelina barreled up a nearby arroyo. San Antonio Express-News, "“It’s almost like having a national park all to yourself.”," 18 Oct. 2019 Meanwhile, an invigorating shot of mid-level energy over the Great Lakes was barreling eastward, set to trigger the growth of a low pressure zone east of the Chesapeake Bay. Matthew Cappucci,, "Powerhouse wind and rainstorm to roar through New England," 17 Oct. 2019 The deadly storm barreled into the Florida Panhandle with wind speeds of more than 150 mph. CBS News, "One year after Hurricane Michael, it's a "new normal" for Florida residents," 10 Oct. 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.

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

Time Traveler for barrel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for barrel

Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Barrel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 assail by words or arguments

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!