1 [bahr-nuh-kuhl]
any marine crustacean of the subclass Cirripedia, usually having a calcareous shell, being either stalked (goose barnacle) and attaching itself to ship bottoms and floating timber, or stalkless (rock barnacle or acorn barnacle) and attaching itself to rocks, especially in the intertidal zone.
a person or thing that clings tenaciously.

1580–85; perhaps a conflation of barnacle barnacle goose with Cornish brennyk, Irish báirneach limpet, Welsh brenig limpets, reflecting the folk belief that such geese, whose breeding grounds were unknown, were engendered from rotten ships' planking

barnacled, adjective Unabridged


2 [bahr-nuh-kuhl]
Usually, barnacles. an instrument with two hinged branches for pinching the nose of an unruly horse.
barnacles, British Dialect, spectacles.

1350–1400; Middle English bernacle bit, diminutive of bernac < Old French < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
barnacle (ˈbɑːnəkəl)
1.  acorn barnacle See goose barnacle any of various marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that, as adults, live attached to rocks, ship bottoms, etc. They have feathery food-catching cirri protruding from a hard shell
2.  a person or thing that is difficult to get rid of
[C16: related to Late Latin bernicla, of obscure origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., "species of wild goose;" as a type of "shellfish," first recorded 1580s. Often derived from a Celtic source (cf. Bret. bernik, a kind of shellfish), but the application to the goose predates that of the shellfish in Eng. The goose nests in the Arctic in summer and returns to Europe in the
winter, hence the mystery surrounding its reproduction. It was believed in ancient superstition to hatch from barnacle's shell, possibly because the crustacean's feathery stalks resemble goose down. The scientific name of the crustacean, Cirripedes, is from Gk. cirri "curls of hair" + pedes "feet."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
barnacle   (bär'nə-kəl)  Pronunciation Key 
Any of various small marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that form a hard shell in the adult stage and attach themselves to underwater surfaces, such as rocks, the bottoms of ships, and the skin of whales.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Hitchhiking on the surface of a boat hull can be a rough ride, but barnacles
  seem to do it with ease.
But the fuel is free, and the running costs amount largely to scraping
  barnacles off the buoy's bottom every so often.
It can be applied to the hulls of ships and submarines to prevent algae and
  barnacles from attaching themselves.
Even tiny barnacles take in microscopic fragments of the stuff, which then move
  up the food chain, with unknown consequences.
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