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[bahr-nuh-kuh l] /ˈbɑr nə kəl/
any marine crustacean of the subclass Cirripedia, usually having a calcareous shell, being either stalked (goose barnacle) and attaching itself to ship bottoms and floating timber, or stalkless (rock barnacle or acorn barnacle) and attaching itself to rocks, especially in the intertidal zone.
a person or thing that clings tenaciously.
Origin of barnacle1
1580-85; perhaps a conflation of barnacle barnacle goose with Cornish brennyk, Irish báirneach limpet, Welsh brenig limpets, reflecting the folk belief that such geese, whose breeding grounds were unknown, were engendered from rotten ships' planking
Related forms
barnacled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for barnacled
Historical Examples
  • Picking his way over the barnacled rocks he started for the beach.

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
  • Then Mart gripped the kris, tore it from the barnacled wood, and whipped around to meet his enemy.

    The Pirate Shark Elliott Whitney
  • The rumble and roar bored itself into a remote corner of my brain while I watched that barnacled hulk and concentrated.

    Cue for Quiet Thomas L. Sherred
  • For though handsome lads, they were all (in the Scots phrase) barnacled.

  • I have forgotten to say that we found the barnacled cask nearly filled with a most delicious wine which none of us can name.

  • With her eyes still held by the barnacled rocks, she snapped: "Then you may see something."

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
  • Others went along the Costa Rican coast to find turtle to salt for victuals, and to careen their barnacled and wormy ships.

    On the Spanish Main John Masefield
  • The swell was breaking white against its barnacled granite boulders in a long, crashing rumble.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman

    Albert Walter Tolman
  • "Got to have somethin' to keep me from gettin' barnacled," declared Captain Lote.

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • How was it that these brown savages were free, and he barnacled to a slab-sided bark?

British Dictionary definitions for barnacled


any of various marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that, as adults, live attached to rocks, ship bottoms, etc. They have feathery food-catching cirri protruding from a hard shell See acorn barnacle, goose barnacle
a person or thing that is difficult to get rid of
Derived Forms
barnacled, adjective
Word Origin
C16: related to Late Latin bernicla, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for barnacled



early 13c., "species of wild goose;" as a type of "shellfish," first recorded 1580s. Often derived from a Celtic source (cf. Breton bernik, a kind of shellfish), but the application to the goose predates that of the shellfish in English. The goose nests in the Arctic in summer and returns to Europe in the winter, hence the mystery surrounding its reproduction. It was believed in ancient superstition to hatch from barnacle's shell, possibly because the crustacean's feathery stalks resemble goose down. The scientific name of the crustacean, Cirripedes, is from Greek cirri "curls of hair" + pedes "feet."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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barnacled in Science
Any of various small marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that form a hard shell in the adult stage and attach themselves to underwater surfaces, such as rocks, the bottoms of ships, and the skin of whales.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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