Definitions

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

  • n. Any of various units of volume or capacity ranging from 63 to 140 gallons (238 to 530 liters), especially a unit of capacity used in liquid measure in the United States, equal to 63 gallons (238 liters).
  • n. A large barrel or cask with this capacity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An English measure of capacity for liquids, containing 63 wine gallons, or about 52 1/2 imperial gallons; a half pipe.
  • n. A large cask or barrel, of indefinite contents; especially one containing from 100 to 140 gallons.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An English measure of capacity, containing 63 wine gallons, or about 521/2 imperial gallons; a half pipe.
  • n. A large cask or barrel, of indefinite contents; esp. one containing from 100 to 140 gallons.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A large cask for liquors, etc.
  • n. Specifically— A cask having the definite capacity of 63 old wine-gallons, 54 beer-gallons, etc. See def. 2.
  • n. A cask having a capacity of from 100 to 140 gallons: as, a hogshead of sugar, molasses, or tobacco.
  • n. A liquid measure containing 63 old wine-gallons (equal to 52½ imperial gallons), this value having been fixed by an English statute of 1423.
  • n. A draught, as of wine or ale, taken from a cup which forms the head or cover of a jug in the shape of a hog. See Sussex pig, under pig.

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

  • n. a British unit of capacity for alcoholic beverages
  • n. a large cask especially one holding 63 gals

Etymologies

From Middle English hoggeshed (literally, "hog's head"). More at hog, head. Often borrowed into other languages as "ox-head". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Briscoe explained how she used cannonballs supposedly left behind after the War of 1812 to weigh down tobacco in hogshead barrels.

    Oral history project offers firsthand recollections of Calvert's past

  • A serious countenance did he bear as he passed through the two courts which separated his lodging from the festal chamber, and solemn as the gravity of a hogshead was the farewell caution with which he prayed Ludovic to attend his nephew's motions, especially in the matters of wenches and wine cups.

    Quentin Durward

  • Two barrels, or coombs, make a measure called a hogshead, liquid, or a quarter, dry; each being the quarter of a ton.

    Public Papers

  • ** 40 rods*** to the hogshead is the equivalent of 10.48 feet to the gallon, which may or may not say volumes about McCain's energy policy.

    The Inverse Square Blog

  • A serious countenance did he bear as he passed through the two courts which separated his lodging from the festal chamber, and solemn as the gravity of a hogshead was the farewell caution with which he prayed Ludovic to attend his nephew’s motions, especially in the matters of wenches and wine cups.

    Quentin Durward

  • She was not quite the "hogshead" the landlord declared her to be, but she was one of the worst cases of dropsy I had ever seen.

    Seven Wives and Seven Prisons

  • I always wondered why two pipes in liquid measure were called a hogshead; now I know; it was on account of their great capacity.”

    Memories and Anecdotes

  • I always wondered why two pipes in liquid measure were called a hogshead; now I know; it was on account of their great capacity. "

    Memories and Anecdotes

  • While participating in a militia muster, he supplied an entire hogshead—sixty-three gallons—of rum punch, which “entertained all the people and made them drunk and fighting all the evening, but without mischief.”

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • Placed in hogshead barrels, the sugar was exported via Bridgetown – the port city which became, in the 18th century, "the London of the West Indies".

    Colonial riches in Barbados

Comments

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  • Two hogsheads = one butt.

    August 29, 2010

  • "Here is the unadulterated ale of father Adam--better than Cognac, Hollands, Jamaica, strong beer, or wine of any price; here it is, by the hogshead or the single glass, and not a cent to pay!" from "A Rill From the Town Pump" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    September 23, 2009

  • "No wonder that these small and high-colored apples are thought to make the best cider. Loudon quotes from the Herefordshire Report that 'apples of a small size are always, if equal in quality, to be preferred to those of a larger size, in order that the rind and kernel may bear the greatest proportion to the pulp, which affords the weakest and most watery juice.' And he says, that, 'to prove this, Dr. Symonds of Hereford, about the year 1800, made one hogshead of cider entirely from the rinds and cores of apples, and another from the pulp only, when the first was found of extraordinary strength and flavor, while the latter was sweet and insipid.'" - 'Wild Apples', Henry David Thoreau.

    December 14, 2007

  • "Cask holding 54 imperial gallons ( 243 liters )."
    Beer Glossary

    October 7, 2007