Definitions

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small wooden vessel or cask of indeterminate size, -- used for butter, lard, etc.
  • n. A weight measure for butter, equalling 56 pounds.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A varying measure of capacity, usually being the fourth part of a barrel; specifically, a measure equal to nine imperial gallons.
  • n. A small wooden vessel or cask of indeterminate size, -- used for butter, lard, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A measure of capacity, usually the fourth part of a barrel, and varying in magnitude with the barrel.
  • n. A small wooden vessel or cask of no determinate capacity, used chiefly for butter, tallow, soap, etc.

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

  • n. a British unit of capacity equal to 9 imperial gallons
  • n. a small wooden keg

Etymologies

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)
From Middle Dutch *vierdekijn, diminutive of vierde ("fourth"), from vier ("four"), equivalent to fourth +‎ -kin. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This particular firkin is reserved for thirsty Long Island beer enthusiasts.

    LENNDEVOURS:

  • Eight gallons make a measure called a firkin, in liquid substances, and a bushel, dry.

    Public Papers

  • "firkin" - a small keg where cask ale is fermented.

    News

  • The cask of Oakham Bishops Farewell is a full firkin which is about 80 pints.

    Long Island Beer Events

  • a firkin is a 10-gallon keg filled with beer that's been naturally fermented.

    StarTribune.com rss feed

  • Authorized Version "firkin," for liquids. (b) The choenix,

    Smith's Bible Dictionary

  • The next Firkin Friday is scheduled for Friday, February 8 with a full firkin of Oakham Bishop's Farewell.

    Long Island Beer Events

  • As far as I can tell, this may be Hop Head Red's Long Island premier (in a firkin, at least).

    Long Island Beer Events

  • Tonight, starting at 6 p.m., a firkin of Oakham Bishops Farewell will be available on cask in the tap room.

    Long Island Beer Events

  • 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.

    Long Island Beer Events

Comments

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  • Noooo! Not the firkins again!

    May 4, 2010

  • "Have a large firkin, put in a layer of sliced tomatoes, then one of onions, next one of peppers, lastly cabbage; sprinkle over some of the mustard seed, repeat the layers again, and so on.... skim it well and turn it into the firkin. Let it stand twenty-four hours, then pour the whole into a large kettle, and let it boil five minutes; turn into the firkin, and stand away for future use."
    —Jane Warren, The Economical Cook Book, ca. 1882, quoted in Susan Williams, Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 271

    May 4, 2010

  • Firkin Robert Frost firkin firkins "forty firkins" in his firkin firkinly poem "Directive." (said in the voice of a displaced Smurf.)

    November 14, 2009

  • ODE TO MODERATION

    Overindulge, my lads at your peril:
    A firkin here, a firkin there...
    and pretty soon
    you’re over a barrel.
    --jorge999

    November 14, 2009

  • Yes they were. Firkin germs. For all I know it was the gherkins.

    May 19, 2007

  • *awkward smirk*
    *cough*
    *looks away*

    May 18, 2007

  • Some bad ole germs were lurkin' at the Ferkin, I'm certain.

    May 18, 2007

  • Update: The Firkin Tavern (mentioned below)? Went there yesterday. Got food poisoning. Wouldn't go there again if my firkin life depended on it.

    May 18, 2007

  • props to uselessness for a most excellent limerick!

    February 19, 2007

  • HA! Splendid! Best firkin limerick I've heard in quite a while.

    February 17, 2007

  •      I once had a coworker, Gherkin
         Who routinely adjusted her merkin
         Unaware that we knew
         She did the taboo
         And thusly is no longer workin'

    Um... the title is "Have a Nice Firkin Day!"

    February 17, 2007

  • I knitted you a jerkin for your firkin merkin, Gherkin. Now I expect a limerick in return.

    February 17, 2007

  • Anyone named "Gherkin" has enough trouble already without me throwing my two cents in.

    February 16, 2007

  • Well, that wouldn't be so bad unless the person you were calling a firkin merkin was named, say, gherkin. Then you'd have to say, "Have a nice firkin merkin, Gherkin."

    February 16, 2007

  • Or, if I wanted a black eye and a harassment suit, I could say "Have a nice firkin merkin."

    Sorry. Someone had to say it.

    February 16, 2007

  • On the other hand, if you asked her about her merkin, you might end up in a lawsuit.

    February 15, 2007

  • That's firkin excellent. Probably doesn't hurt that you're all 18th-centuryish there. :-)

    February 15, 2007

  • I've been using "firkin" at work as much as possible lately. Carefully. Our receptionist doesn't bat an eye anymore when I say "Have a nice firkin day."

    February 15, 2007

  • There's a Firkin Tavern not far from where I work. Motto: "The Best Firkin Tavern in Town!" They make liberal use of the fact that the word sounds so much like the F-bomb. (I also like that it serves "sammiches" instead of "sandwiches.") ;-)

    Apparently there's also a restaurant chain picking up on the idea. Oh well.

    February 13, 2007

  • A small cask for liquids, fish, butter, etc., originally containing a quarter of a ‘barrel’ or half a ‘kilderkin’.

    February 13, 2007