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pork barrel

noun, Informal.
a government appropriation, bill, or policy that supplies funds for local improvements designed to ingratiate legislators with their constituents.
Origin of pork barrel
1905-10, Americanism
Related forms
pork-barrel, adjective
pork-barreling, adjective, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pork-barrel
Contemporary Examples
  • The 2005 highway bill had more than three times the number of pork-barrel appropriations than its 1998 counterpart.

    He's Back! John Avlon March 7, 2009
Historical Examples
  • The Deacon stared, but said he had taken it from his pork-barrel.

    If, Yes and Perhaps Edward Everett Hale
  • Only once did he fling out and bestow an unmerited blow on the pork-barrel.

    The Battery and the Boiler R.M. Ballantyne
  • I needed the money, and I put my hook into the pork-barrel,—that is, I trusted the Public.

    If, Yes and Perhaps Edward Everett Hale
  • They were allowed to run wild to save the trouble of caring for them, and when the pork-barrel was empty they shot one.

    Riverby John Burroughs
  • So it was that my wife said: "Felix, you will have to go to the pork-barrel."

    If, Yes and Perhaps Edward Everett Hale
  • I lay passive for awhile, feeling as if I had been packed and salted down in a pork-barrel.

    From Egypt to Japan Henry M. Field
  • Plunder-bund is now at least as good as pork-barrel and slush-fund, and money-bund is frequently heard in Congress.

    The American Language Henry L. Mencken
  • There was the place for the water-pail, pork-barrel, and wash-basin, and generally a dingy pack of cards left on a log.

    The Maine Woods Henry David Thoreau
  • Walking is very difficult in a dehar, and its wearer feels about as free to move as if enclosed in a pork-barrel.

British Dictionary definitions for pork-barrel

pork barrel

(slang, mainly US)
  1. a bill or project requiring considerable government spending in a locality to the benefit of the legislator's constituents
  2. (as modifier): pork-barrel spending
Word Origin
C20: term originally applied to the Federal treasury considered as a source of lucrative grants
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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Slang definitions & phrases for pork-barrel

pork barrel


Involving spending large amounts of money in an area that generates consumer popularity


A legislative appropriation designed to ingratiate legislators with their constituents (1909+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with pork-barrel

pork barrel

Government funding of something that benefits a particular district, whose legislator thereby wins favor with local voters. For example, Our senator knows the value of the pork barrel. This expression alludes to the fatness of pork, equated with political largesse since the mid-1800s. [ c. 1900 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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