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See more synonyms for firkin on Thesaurus.com
  1. a British unit of capacity usually equal to a quarter of a barrel.
  2. a small wooden vessel or tub for butter, lard, etc.
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Origin of firkin

1400–50; late Middle English ferdkyn, firdekyn, equivalent to ferde (variant of ferthe fourth) + -kin -kin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

British Dictionary definitions for firkin


  1. a small wooden barrel or similar container
  2. British a unit of capacity equal to nine gallons
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Word Origin

C14 fir, from Middle Dutch vierde fourth + -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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper