from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that in the adult stage form a hard shell which remains attached to submerged surfaces such as rocks and ships' hulls, and that have feathery appendages used for filter feeding.
  • noun The barnacle goose.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To fix or attach, as a barnacle upon the bottom of a ship.
  • noun A kind of bit or muzzle used to restrain an unruly horse or ass; now (usually in the plural), an instrument consisting of two branches joined at one end with a hinge, placed on a horse's nose to restrain him while being shod, bled, or dressed.
  • noun Hence An instrument of torture applied in a similar way to persons.
  • noun plural Spectacles.
  • To apply barnacles to: as, to barnacle a horse.
  • noun A species of wild goose, Anser bernicla or Bernicla leucopsis, also called barnacle-goose or bernacle-goose.
  • noun A species of stalked cirriped, Lepas anatifera, of the family Lepadidæ, found hanging in clusters by the long peduncle to the bottoms of ships, to floating timber, or to submerged wood of any kind; the goose-mussel, fabled to fall from its support and turn into a goose (see def. 1).
  • noun Anything resembling a barnacle (in sense 2).
  • noun A person holding on tenaciously to a place or position; one who is a useless or incompetent fixture in an office or employment; a follower who will not be dismissed or shaken off.
  • noun [Cf. barnard.] A decoy swindler.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) Any cirriped crustacean adhering to rocks, floating timber, ships, etc., esp. (a) the sessile species (genus Balanus and allies), and (b) the stalked or goose barnacles (genus Lepas and allies). See cirripedia, and goose barnacle.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the orange filefish.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a bark louse (Ceroplastes cirripediformis) of the orange and quince trees in Florida. The female scale curiously resembles a sessile barnacle in form.
  • noun A bernicle goose.
  • noun (Far.) An instrument for pinching a horse's nose, and thus restraining him.
  • noun Cant, Eng. Spectacles; -- so called from their resemblance to the barnacles used by farriers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A marine crustacean of the subclass Cirripedia that attaches itself to submerged surfaces such as tidal rocks or the bottoms of ships.
  • noun The barnacle goose.
  • noun engineering, slang In electrical engineering, a change made to a product on the manufacturing floor that was not part of the original product design.
  • noun computing, slang On printed circuit boards, a change such as soldering a wire in order to connect two points, or addition such as an added resistor or capacitor, subassembly or daughterboard.
  • noun obsolete An instrument like a pair of pincers, to fix on the nose of a vicious horse while shoeing so as to make it more tractable.
  • noun archaic, UK A nickname for spectacles.
  • noun slang, obsolete A good job, or snack easily obtained.
  • verb To connect with or attach.
  • verb To press close against something.

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

  • noun European goose smaller than the brant; breeds in the far north
  • noun marine crustaceans with feathery food-catching appendages; free-swimming as larvae; as adults form a hard shell and live attached to submerged surfaces


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

[Middle English, barnacle goose, from Old French bernacle, from Medieval Latin bernacula, diminutive of bernaca, of unknown origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English barnakille, from earlier bernake, bernekke, from Old French bernaque ("barnacle"), from Gaulish *barenica (“limpet”) (compare Welsh brennig, Irish báirneac), from *barenos (“rock”) (compare Old Irish barenn ("boulder")); for sense development, compare Ancient Greek λέπας (lépas, "rock") which gave λεπάς (lepás, "limpet").


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  • A barnacle is a ship, and a splinter is a “bandwagon.”

    On that Dove Ad Campaign and Unruly Fat 2005

  • Fastened to the first IMPs like a barnacle was a small phonelike box, with a cord and headset.

    Where Wizards Stay Up Late Katie Hafner 2001

  • Fastened to the first IMPs like a barnacle was a small phonelike box, with a cord and headset.

    Where Wizards Stay Up Late Katie Hafner 2001

  • MAX MUELLER38 has suggested that this word was really derived from Hibernicula, the name thus referring to Ireland, where the birds were caught; but common opinion associated the barnacle goose with the shell-fish known as the barnacle (which is found on timber exposed to the sea), supposing that the former was generated out of the latter.

    Bygone Beliefs 1969

  • For several centuries there was prevalent over the whole of civilised Europe a most extraordinary superstition concerning the small Arctic bird resembling, but not so large as, the common wild goose, known as the barnacle or bernicle goose.

    Bygone Beliefs 1969

  • Cirripedes afford a good instance of this; even the illustrious Cuvier did not perceive that a barnacle was a crustacean: but a glance at the larva shows this in an unmistakable manner.

    XIV. Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology-Embryology-Rudimentary Organs. Development and Embryology 1909

  • I was born back from tidewater and don't know as the barnacle does stick to the oyster.

    Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands (version 1) 1866

  • The bernicle, or brent goose, is interesting from the curious superstition which formerly prevailed respecting it, as it was supposed to have sprung from the shell called the barnacle or lepas, which adheres to the bottoms of ships, and which has a fringe of cirri projecting from between its valves bearing some faint resemblance to the feathers of a bird.

    The Lady's Country Companion: or, How to Enjoy a Country Life Rationally Jane 1845

  • The Barnacle goose or clakis of Willoughby, anas erythropus of Linnaeus, called likewise tree-goose, anciently supposed to be generated from drift wood, or rather from the _lepas anatifera_ or multivalve shell, called barnacle, which is often found on the bottoms of ships.

    A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07 Robert Kerr 1784

  • A barnacle is a type of arthropod belonging to infraclass Cirripedia in the subphylum Crustacea, and is hence related to crabs and lobsters.

    Gaea Times (by Simple Thoughts) Breaking News and incisive views 24/7 2010


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