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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.