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[fur-kin] /ˈfɜr kɪn/
a British unit of capacity usually equal to a quarter of a barrel.
a small wooden vessel or tub for butter, lard, etc.
Origin of firkin
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English ferdkyn, firdekyn, equivalent to ferde (variant of ferthe fourth) + -kin -kin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for firkin
Historical Examples
  • Up he got from his seat upon the firkin, and his head was in the shadows of the smoky timbers.

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
  • He brought me a firkin of butter for my wife, which is very welcome.

  • The firkin was brought, turned upside down, and Joe mounted it.

    Fighting the Sea Edward A. Rand
  • Cranberries will keep all winter in a firkin of water in the cellar.

    The Young Housekeeper's Friend

    Mrs. (Mary Hooker) Cornelius
  • "I hope he will not try that firkin I packed that hot week in July," Mother would say.

    My Boyhood John Burroughs
  • Mr. firkin, as usual, was rigorously gentlemanly, in the quiet way.

    The Potiphar Papers George William Curtis
  • At that moment in the box opposite, I saw our friends, Mr. Boosey and Mr. firkin.

    The Potiphar Papers George William Curtis
  • I have taken your place, and firkin expects you at New York.

    Ayala's Angel

    Anthony Trollope
  • Liar that thou art, Kerry—it would take a cask of one, and a firkin of the other to make up the necessary ointment!

    The O'Donoghue Charles James Lever
  • At Loanda, capital of the kingdom of Angola, a firkin of wine sells for above thirty pounds sterling.

    Ebrietatis Encomium Boniface Oinophilus
British Dictionary definitions for firkin


a small wooden barrel or similar container
(Brit) a unit of capacity equal to nine gallons
Word Origin
C14 fir, from Middle Dutch vierdefourth + -kin
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 firkin

"small cask, fourth part of a barrel," late 14c., apparently from Middle Dutch *vierdekijn, diminutive of vierde, literally "fourth, fourth part" (see fourth).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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