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[fur-kin] /ˈfɜr kɪn/
a British unit of capacity usually equal to a quarter of a barrel.
a small wooden vessel or tub for butter, lard, etc.
Origin of firkin
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English ferdkyn, firdekyn, equivalent to ferde (variant of ferthe fourth) + -kin -kin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for firkin
Historical Examples
  • They had a firkin of ale in a corner, with which to moisten their inner clay between each round.

    In the Roar of the Sea Sabine Baring-Gould
  • Up he got from his seat upon the firkin, and his head was in the shadows of the smoky timbers.

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
  • The firkin was brought, turned upside down, and Joe mounted it.

    Fighting the Sea Edward A. Rand
  • He brought me a firkin of butter for my wife, which is very welcome.

  • Cranberries keep very well in a firkin of water in the cellar, and if so kept, can be stewed fresh at any time during the winter.

    The Young Housekeeper's Friend Mrs. (Mary Hooker) Cornelius
  • Cranberries will keep all winter in a firkin of water in the cellar.

    The Young Housekeeper's Friend Mrs. (Mary Hooker) Cornelius
  • "I hope he will not try that firkin I packed that hot week in July," Mother would say.

    My Boyhood John Burroughs
  • Mr. firkin, as usual, was rigorously gentlemanly, in the quiet way.

    The Potiphar Papers George William Curtis
  • Mr. firkin said he bought an astonishing number of gloves that morning, and suddenly remembered that he wanted cravats.

    The Potiphar Papers George William Curtis
  • At that moment in the box opposite, I saw our friends, Mr. Boosey and Mr. firkin.

    The Potiphar Papers George William Curtis
British Dictionary definitions for firkin


a small wooden barrel or similar container
(Brit) a unit of capacity equal to nine gallons
Word Origin
C14 fir, from Middle Dutch vierdefourth + -kin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for firkin

"small cask, fourth part of a barrel," late 14c., apparently from Middle Dutch *vierdekijn, diminutive of vierde, literally "fourth, fourth part" (see fourth).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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firkin in the Bible

Used only in John 2:6; the Attic amphora, equivalent to the Hebrew bath (q.v.), a measure for liquids containing about 8 7/8 gallons.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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