• WordNet 3.6
    • n firkin a small wooden keg
    • n firkin a British unit of capacity equal to 9 imperial gallons
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Firkin A small wooden vessel or cask of indeterminate size, -- used for butter, lard, etc.
    • Firkin A varying measure of capacity, usually being the fourth part of a barrel; specifically, a measure equal to nine imperial gallons.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n firkin A measure of capacity, usually the fourth part of a barrel, and varying in magnitude with the barrel. The English ale and beer firkin is 9 imperial gallons, equal to 10.8 United States gallons; but at the time when ale- and beer-measures were distinct a firkin of beer was 9 gallons, while a firkin of ale was only 8 gallons. A firkin of honey was also 8 gallons, by a statute of 1581. A firkin of butter is 56 pounds (36 Geo. III.). A firkin of soap is 64 pounds or 8 gallons. The oldest firkins were of much greater capacity. Thus, by a statute of 1423 the firkin was 84 gallons; while by another of 1482 the firkin of fish was made 21 gallons, being one fourth of a butt and half a barrel. An Irish firkin was half a barrel or 100 pounds.
    • n firkin A small wooden vessel or cask of no determinate capacity, used chiefly for butter, tallow, soap, etc.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Firkin fėr′kin a measure equal to the fourth part of a barrel: 9 gallons: 56 lb. of butter.
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
From AS. feówer, four (or an allied word, perh. Dutch or Danish) + -kin,. See Four
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
With dim. suff. -kin, from Old Dut. vierde, fourth.


In literature:

Firkin had been deposed long before her mistress's departure from the country.
"Vanity Fair" by William Makepeace Thackeray
Butter firkins, I think.
"Madam How and Lady Why or, First Lessons in Earth Lore for Children" by Charles Kingsley
And as to my woman, I will sell her to you for a firkin of Gascony.
"Sir Nigel" by Arthur Conan Doyle
And this was the construction of the two cisterns of gold, each containing two firkins.
"The Antiquities of the Jews" by Flavius Josephus
This dainty way, however, would hardly make a bad article good, and no one would crave a berry of ancient firkin butter.
"The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 16, No. 97, November, 1865" by Various
After them came the youths of the town, rolling before them a ten-firkin cask full of the wine of Hegyalja.
"A Hungarian Nabob" by Maurus Jókai
You're askin' too much for them firkins?
"Handy Andy, Volume One" by Samuel Lover
Up he got from his seat upon the firkin, and his head was in the shadows of the smoky timbers.
"Gilian The Dreamer" by Neil Munro
The trunks go like smoke, so do the firkins and other domestic wares.
"Letters from Port Royal" by Various
This swag-bellied jolly-boat handles like a firkin.
"Blackbeard: Buccaneer" by Ralph D. Paine
New firkins often communicate a disagreeable odour to the butter.
"The Stock-Feeder's Manual" by Charles Alexander Cameron
In the rear end of their wagon was a butter firkin and a number of packages.
"When Life Was Young" by C. A. Stephens
What a prospect from the Point of Firkin!
"Recreations of Christopher North, Volume I (of 2)" by John Wilson
Firkin hoops, or hickory withs, about as large as the ramrod of a rifle, will answer the purpose very well.
"Croquet" by Anonymous
Now there were six waterpots of stone set there after the Jews' manner of purifying, containing two or three firkins apiece.
"The Expositor's Bible: The Gospel of St. John, Vol. I" by Marcus Dods
I have taken your place, and Firkin expects you at New York.
"Ayala's Angel" by Anthony Trollope
Thus finished, it is placed in firkins holding about eighty-five pounds.
"Domestic Animals" by Richard L. Allen
And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
"Walks and Words of Jesus" by M. N. Olmsted
He eateth nothing, and a firkin of ale would last him six months.
"House of Torment" by Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
Whenever I read Mr. Chester Firkins' excellent poem "On a Subway Express" I am filled with amazement.
"The Circus, and Other Essays and Fugitive Pieces" by Joyce Kilmer

In news:

Casks are often called firkins, designating a 9-gallon capacity, and these days are made of stainless steel, not the wooden barrels of yesteryear.
A British-style pub with the heart of an outré bohemian, Frog and Firkin is not only a great place to grab a tasty brew, but a fine place to sate your appetite as well.
How to 'crack a firkin ' for Hoptoberfest with Mayor George Heartwell (video).
This Saturday is the second annual Hoptoberfest event presented by Hopcat and this year's event will begin in the same fashion as last year's debut - with the cracking of the firkin .
Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival set for Cathedral Square.
Milwaukee's brewing history gets a modern touch with the Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival on Saturday at Cathedral Square Park.
Watch Arcadia Ales' Tim Suprise tap a firkin of the seasonal wheat ale (video).
Josh Smith KalamaBrew Founder/owner pf Arcadia Ales Tim Suprise taped multiple firkins of Whitsun on St Patrick's Day.
Firkins, PhD, an expert on ruminant animal nutrition and production, was recognized for his professional achievements by the American Dairy Science Association.
Dr Firkins is a professor of animal science and director of nutrition for The Ohio State University.
(On a side note, I mentioned on the blog yesterday that Arrowhead 's first appearance of the season will be this Friday at the McNellie's OKC Firkin Friday.
The event will feature firkins from breweries around the country.
Triple Rock Brewery Fills A Room With Firkins.