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goose barnacle

See under barnacle1 (def 1).
Origin of goose barnacle


[bahr-nuh-kuh l] /ˈbɑr nə kəl/
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
Related forms
barnacled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for goose-barnacle
Historical Examples
  • This genus is commonly known as the ship-barnacle, also as the goose-barnacle.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
British Dictionary definitions for goose-barnacle

goose barnacle

any barnacle of the genus Lepas, living attached by a stalk to pieces of wood, having long feathery appendages (cirri) and flattened shells


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 See acorn barnacle, goose barnacle
a person or thing that is difficult to get rid of
Derived Forms
barnacled, adjective
Word Origin
C16: related to Late Latin bernicla, of obscure origin
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 goose-barnacle



early 13c., "species of wild goose;" as a type of "shellfish," first recorded 1580s. Often derived from a Celtic source (cf. Breton bernik, a kind of shellfish), but the application to the goose predates that of the shellfish in English. 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 Greek cirri "curls of hair" + pedes "feet."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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goose-barnacle in Science
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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