American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A small wooden barrel or covered vessel.
- n. Any of several British units of capacity, usually equal to about 1/4 of a barrel or 9 gallons (34 liters).
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A measure of capacity, usually the fourth part of a barrel, and varying in magnitude with the barrel. The English ale and beer firkin is 9 imperial gallons, equal to 10.8 United States gallons; but at the time when ale- and beer-measures were distinct a firkin of beer was 9 gallons, while a firkin of ale was only 8 gallons. A firkin of honey was also 8 gallons, by a statute of 1581. A firkin of butter is 56 pounds (36 Geo. III.). A firkin of soap is 64 pounds or 8 gallons. The oldest firkins were of much greater capacity. Thus, by a statute of 1423 the firkin was 84 gallons; while by another of 1482 the firkin of fish was made 21 gallons, being one fourth of a butt and half a barrel. An Irish firkin was half a barrel or 100 pounds.
- n. A small wooden vessel or cask of no determinate capacity, used chiefly for butter, tallow, soap, etc.
- n. US A small wooden vessel or cask of indeterminate size, -- used for butter, lard, etc.
- n. A weight measure for butter, equalling 56 pounds.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. engraving A varying measure of capacity, usually being the fourth part of a barrel; specifically, a measure equal to nine imperial gallons.
- n. U.S. A small wooden vessel or cask of indeterminate size, -- used for butter, lard, etc.
- n. a British unit of capacity equal to 9 imperial gallons
- n. a small wooden keg
- From Middle Dutch *vierdekijn, diminutive of vierde ("fourth"), from vier ("four"), equivalent to fourth + -kin. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English ferken, ferdekin, probably from Middle Dutch *verdelkijn, diminutive of veerdel, one-fourth : veerde, fourth; see kwetwer- in Indo-European roots + deel, part; see dail- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“This particular firkin is reserved for thirsty Long Island beer enthusiasts.”
“Eight gallons make a measure called a firkin, in liquid substances, and a bushel, dry.”
“firkin" - a small keg where cask ale is fermented.”
“The cask of Oakham Bishops Farewell is a full firkin which is about 80 pints.”
“a firkin is a 10-gallon keg filled with beer that's been naturally fermented.”
“Authorized Version "firkin," for liquids. (b) The choenix,”
“The next Firkin Friday is scheduled for Friday, February 8 with a full firkin of Oakham Bishop's Farewell.”
“As far as I can tell, this may be Hop Head Red's Long Island premier (in a firkin, at least).”
“Tonight, starting at 6 p.m., a firkin of Oakham Bishops Farewell will be available on cask in the tap room.”
“The beer has been fermenting away at Mike's house for the last couple of weeks and earlier this week it was ready to transfer into the firkin.”
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