Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A cask.
  • n. An obsolete English measure of capacity equal to about 18 gallons (68 liters).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small barrel.
  • n. An old English liquid measure, usually being half a barrel; containing 18 English beer gallons, or nearly twenty-two gallons, United States measure.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small barrel; an old liquid measure containing eighteen English beer gallons, or nearly twenty-two gallons, United States measure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A measure of capacity, half a barrel or 2 firkins.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an obsolete British unit of capacity equal to 18 Imperial gallons

Etymologies

Middle English, alteration of Middle Flemish kinderkin, variant of Middle Dutch kindekijn : quintel, quintlein, quintal (from Medieval Latin quintāle; see quintal) + -kijn, diminutive suff.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Or his comic masterpiece, Mac Flecknoe, satirising an obscure Restoration rival: "A tun of man, in thy large bulk is writ,/but sure thou'rt but a kilderkin of wit" (kilderkin: an old English unit of volume equal to two firkins).

    Only a sadist would inflict Dryden on our schoolchildren

  • Southcombe, marching slowly with his long limp burdens, found ready on the sand the little barrel, about as big as a kilderkin, of true and unsullied Stockholm pitch, which he had taken, as his brother took Madeira, for ripeness and for betterance, by right of change of climate.

    Springhaven

  • But the figure of the woman was still more awkward: an unwieldy bulk, two extended arms which seemed to bear it up with difficulty, and looked like two carved handles from the neck to the widest part of a large kilderkin, and beneath this enormous body, two legs, naked up to the knees, which could scarcely totter along.

    Chapter XI

  • Two firkins, or bushels, make a measure called a rundlet or kilderkin, liquid, and a strike, dry.

    Reports and Opinions While Secretary of State

  • Devil a drop have you left in the great kilderkin.

    The White Company

  • Because of this fact alone I should not commend the diversion of moving save to people of very ample means as well as perfect leisure; there are more reasons than the misery of flitting why the dweller in the kilderkin should not covet the hogshead reeking of claret.

    Suburban Sketches

  • There is no house to which one would return, having left it, though it were the hogshead out of which one had moved into a kilderkin; for those associations whose perishing leaves us free, and preserves to us what little youth we have, were otherwise perpetuated to our burden and bondage.

    Suburban Sketches

  • "Were I Diogenes," says wrathful Charles Lamb in one of his letters, "I would not move out of a kilderkin into a hogshead, though the first had nothing but small beer in it, and the second reeked claret."

    Suburban Sketches

  • Southcombe, marching slowly with his long limp burdens, found ready on the sand the little barrel, about as big as a kilderkin, of true and unsullied Stockholm pitch, which he had taken, as his brother took

    Springhaven : a Tale of the Great War

  • September, 1529, the price of a kilderkin of single beer was fixed at a shilling, the kilderkin of double beer at two shillings; but this included the cask; and the London brewers replied with a remonstrance, saying that the casks were often destroyed or made away with, and that an allowance had to be made for bad debts.

    The Reign of Henry the Eighth, Volume 1 (of 3)

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Comments

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  • Variously, 81.83 litres, 2 firkins, or 18 gallons, liquid measure. "Kilderin" is ghosted - but it might make a great band name or the title of a tune (not tun).

    September 24, 2009