Definitions

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

  • noun A small wooden barrel or covered vessel.
  • noun Any of several British units of capacity, usually equal to about 1/4 of a barrel or 9 gallons (34 liters).

from The Century Dictionary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

Comments

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

    February 13, 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

  • 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

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

    February 15, 2007

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

    February 15, 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

  • 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

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

    February 16, 2007

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

    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