Pronunciation: (bar'ul), [key]
—n., v., -reled, -rel•ing or (esp. Brit.) -relled, -rel•ling.
1. a cylindrical wooden container with slightly bulging sides made of staves hooped together, and with flat, parallel ends.
2. 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). Abbr.: bbl
3. any large quantity: a barrel of fun.
4. any container, case, or part similar to a wooden barrel in form.
5. Ordn.the tube of a gun.
6. Mach.the chamber of a pump in which the piston works.
7. a drum turning on a shaft, as in a weight-driven clock.
8. Horol.the cylindrical case in a watch or clock within which the mainspring is coiled.
9. Ornith. Obs.a calamus or quill.
10. the trunk of a quadruped, esp. of a horse, cow, etc.
11. Naut.the main portion of a capstan, about which the rope winds, between the drumhead at the top and the pawl rim at the bottom.
12. a rotating horizontal cylinder in which manufactured objects are coated or polished by tumbling in a suitable substance.
13. any structure having the form of a barrel vault.
14. Also called throat. Auto.a passageway in a carburetor that has the shape of a Venturi tube.
15. 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.
1. to put or pack in a barrel or barrels.
2. to finish (metal parts) by tumbling in a barrel.
3. Informal.to force to go or proceed at high speed: He barreled his car through the dense traffic.
Informal.to travel or drive very fast: to barrel along the highway.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.