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 In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 18 cents to $62.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Joe Mcdonald, ajc, "Asia stocks lower after Wall St record ahead of Fed meeting," 27 Apr. 2021 Since mid-February, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude has held steady at about $60 per barrel (after staying at the $40 level for most of the second half of last year). Palash Ghosh, Forbes, "Energy Stocks Have Beaten All Other Sectors So Far This Year, But Analysts Divided Over Near-Term Outlook," 6 Apr. 2021 Prices fell back again Thursday, and were last down 1.4% to $63.55 per barrel. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "A huge ship is blocking a vital trade artery. It could get costly," 25 Mar. 2021 Crude is gaining with Brent trading above $67/barrel. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Coinbase and crypto slump, but a resurgent economy pushes blue-chip stocks higher," 16 Apr. 2021 Despite the blockade, crude oil has fluctuated around $60 per barrel this week, currently at $61, though that is up from $58.56 on Thursday. John T. Bennett, Washington Examiner, "Biden administration offers US help to free massive cargo ship stuck in Suez Canal," 26 Mar. 2021 West Texas Intermediate — the benchmark U.S. crude — was trading around $66 per barrel Thursday, its highest mark since 2018. Mike Hughlett, Star Tribune, "North Dakota oil production dips again in January," 11 Mar. 2021 Crude oil traded at $61.66 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, not far from levels around $63 in the last days of December 2019, on the eve of the outbreak. David Mchugh,, "Future of gas prices may be riding on today’s OPEC meeting," 4 Mar. 2021 Funding would come in part from a fee of 5 cents per barrel on petroleum products. Globe Staff,, "How will McKee steer Rhode Island on environmental policy?," 8 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As the mayoral candidates barrel toward the June 22 Democratic primary, sharp distinctions are emerging around how to address this immense task. New York Times, "As New York City Reopens, Its Recovery Will Hinge on the Next Mayor," 1 May 2021 Velocity above the hands is tough for most hitters to barrel., "Red Sox are winning without relying on the long ball," 26 Apr. 2021 Neighbors say little has been done to address their safety concerns about the junction of Cedar Avenue, E. Lake Nokomis Parkway and Edgewater Boulevard, where cars barrel on and off Hwy. 77. Susan Du, Star Tribune, "Crash that injured cyclist is latest incident at troubled south Minneapolis intersection," 31 Mar. 2021 An open stance and easy movements to the hitting positions enable him to quickly barrel baseballs with a short upper-cut stroke. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "MLB's 100 Names You Need To Know For 2021," 22 Feb. 2021 Current laws make it so that everyone could theoretically have neighbors like Shirley and Leahy, though not everyone’s neighbor thinks as deeply about hops and yeast strains and barrel aging. Globe Staff,, "Look for Time & Materials Beer, coming to you straight from a Reading garage," 2 Mar. 2021 Two years later, the site tallied more than 100,000 entries with participants personalizing factors such as mashbill, age statement, proof—even barrel placement within the warehouse. Brad Japhe, Forbes, "The World’s Best Bourbon—According To The 2021 World Whiskies Awards," 25 Feb. 2021 Footage from the scene shows a car, which prosecutors allege was driven by Turner, barrel into a crowd of Trump supporters that had surrounded her vehicle. Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times, "Orange County rally organizer accused of running over Trump supporters faces new charges," 20 Jan. 2021 Mono winds, which barrel down the western slopes of the Sierra from the area around Mono Lake, were implicated in the massive Creek fire in Fresno and Madera counties. Los Angeles Times, "What are foehn winds? Fires in the Eastern Sierra were fueled by Santa Ana-like gusting," 25 Nov. 2020

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

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Barrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 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)

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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