a grain of barley.
a unit of length equal to 1/3 inch (8.5 mm).
Also barley corn. a type of basket weave that produces an allover geometric pattern.

Origin of barleycorn

1375–1425; late Middle English. See barley1, corn1



noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for barleycorn

Historical Examples of barleycorn

British Dictionary definitions for barleycorn



a grain of barley, or barley itself
an obsolete unit of length equal to one third of an inch
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

Word Origin and History for barleycorn

late 14c., from barley + corn (n.). Perhaps to distinguish the barley plant or the grain from its products. In Britain and U.S., the grain is used mainly to prepare liquor, hence personification as John Barleycorn (1620) in popular ballad, and many now-obsolete figures of speech, e.g. to wear a barley cap (16c.) "to be drunk."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper