a cylindrical wooden container with slightly bulging sides made of staves hooped together, and with flat, parallel ends.
the quantity that such a vessel of some standard size can hold: for most liquids, 31½ U.S. gallons (119 L); for petroleum, 42 U.S. gallons (159 L); for dry materials, 105 U.S. dry quarts (115 L). Abbreviation: bbl
any large quantity: a barrel of fun.
any container, case, or part similar to a wooden barrel in form.
Ordnance. the tube of a gun.
Machinery. the chamber of a pump in which the piston works.
a drum turning on a shaft, as in a weight-driven clock.
Horology. the cylindrical case in a watch or clock within which the mainspring is coiled.
Ornithology Obsolete. a calamus or quill.
the trunk of a quadruped, especially of a horse, cow, etc.
Nautical. the main portion of a capstan, about which the rope winds, between the drumhead at the top and the pawl rim at the bottom.
a rotating horizontal cylinder in which manufactured objects are coated or polished by tumbling in a suitable substance.
any structure having the form of a barrel vault.
Also called throat. Automotive. a passageway in a carburetor that has the shape of a Venturi tube.
verb (used with object), barreled, barreling or (especially British) barrelled, barrelling.
to put or pack in a barrel or barrels.
to finish (metal parts) by tumbling in a barrel.
Informal. to force to go or proceed at high speed: He barreled his car through the dense traffic.
verb (used without object), barreled, barreling or (especially British) barrelled, barrelling.
Informal. to travel or drive very fast: to barrel along the highway.
over a barrel, Informal. in a helpless, weak, or awkward position; unable to act: They really had us over a barrel when they foreclosed the mortgage.

1250–1300; Middle English barell < Anglo-French baril, Old French barril < Vulgar Latin *barrīculum, equivalent to *barrīc(a), perhaps derivative of Late Latin barra bar1 + Latin -ulum -ule; compare Medieval Latin (circa 800) barriclus small cask

half-barrel, noun
unbarreled, adjective
unbarrelled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
barrel (ˈbærəl)
1.  a cylindrical container usually bulging outwards in the middle and held together by metal hoops; cask
2.  Also called: barrelful the amount that a barrel can hold
3.  a unit of capacity used in brewing, equal to 36 Imperial gallons
4.  a unit of capacity used in the oil and other industries, normally equal to 42 US gallons or 35 Imperial gallons
5.  a thing or part shaped like a barrel, esp a tubular part of a machine
6.  the tube through which the projectile of a firearm is discharged
7.  horology the cylindrical drum in a watch or clock that is rotated by the mainspring
8.  the trunk of a four-legged animal: the barrel of a horse
9.  the quill of a feather
10.  informal a large measure; a great deal (esp in the phrases barrel of fun, barrel of laughs)
11.  informal (Austral) the hollow inner side of a wave
12.  informal over a barrel powerless
13.  informal scrape the barrel to be forced to use one's last and weakest resource
vb , -rels, -relling, -relled, -rels, -reling, -reled
14.  (tr) to put into a barrel or barrels
15.  informal (intr; foll by along, in, etc), (intr) to travel or move very fast
16.  informal (Austral) to ride on the inside of a wave
[C14: from Old French baril perhaps from barrebar1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. baril (12c.) "barrel, cask, vat," with cognates in all Romance languages (cf. It. barile, Sp. barril), but origin uncertain; perhaps from Gaulish, perhaps somehow related to bar (1). Meaning "metal tube of a gun" is from 1640s. The verb meaning "to move quickly"
is 1930, Amer.Eng. slang, perhaps suggestive of a rolling barrel.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Barrel definition

a vessel used for keeping flour (1 Kings 17:12, 14, 16). The same word (cad) so rendered is also translated "pitcher," a vessel for carrying water (Gen. 24:14; Judg. 7:16).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


large, bulging cylindrical container of sturdy construction traditionally made from wooden staves and wooden or metal hoops. The term is also a unit of volume measure, specifically 31 gallons of a fermented or distilled beverage, or 42 gallons of a petroleum product. According to the 1st-century-AD Roman historian Pliny the Elder, the ancient craft of barrel making, also called cooperage, was invented by the inhabitants of the Alpine valleys.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
He had pulled an old plastic sled out of the garage and filled it up with water
  from our rain barrel.
Each of the caps of a vault's barrel is made from a ring of proteins.
Lift the barrel unit from around the compost and set it beside the current
  compost heap.
So, preventing the pipeline from being built will not stop a single barrel of
  oil from being burned.
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