Definition of barnacle in US English:

barnacle

noun

  • 1A marine crustacean with an external shell, which attaches itself permanently to a variety of surfaces. Barnacles feed by filtering particles from the water using their modified feathery legs.

    Class Cirripedia. See acorn barnacle, goose barnacle

    • ‘Divers have to look out for the barnacle covered surfaces and sea urchins as they explore the various levels of the King Cruiser.’
    • ‘This can take the form of weed, hard animals such as mussels, oysters and barnacles, or mobile animals which ‘catch a lift’ on ships.’
    • ‘Most starfish are predators, feeding on sessile or slow-moving prey such as mollusks and barnacles.’
    • ‘Yale researchers say a chemical used to protect marine vessels against barnacles clinging to their hulls may be doing damage to the hearing of whales and other mammals.’
    • ‘For example, barnacles (whelk prey) may be more susceptible to short-term food deprivation than mussels (sea star prey) because of their small size.’
    • ‘Striking against their surroundings, markings of where barnacles and other marine life had been scraped off were prevalent on the outer walls, testament to the annoyances of underwater living.’
    • ‘Therefore, barnacles have only a very little effective contact surface on which they stick.’
    • ‘Moreover, by attaching rocks that held a solitary barnacle to rocks that held twenty or more, Mauck and Harkless forced solitaries to become part of a group.’
    • ‘At low tide, you can see all of the shells and barnacles between the low and high water marks.’
    • ‘Sloths and barnacles are derived from mobile ancestors, implying that selection sometimes favors reduced mobility of animals.’
    • ‘Many species, including lobsters, crayfish, barnacles, and crabs are important to human economies, some very much so.’
    • ‘In coastal areas, they eat mussels, barnacles, and limpets.’
    • ‘While some animals are sedentary, such as barnacles and sponges, most are quite able to move around.’
    • ‘Most boat owners apply anti-foul paint to prevent barnacles and other marine growth from attaching itself to the underwater hull.’
    • ‘The whale raised its nose toward me, and I could see barnacles on it, with their feathery legs straining the water.’
    • ‘Fouling organisms such as algae, mussels, sea squirts, and barnacles have historically been a problem and continue to cost the boating industry tens of millions of dollars each year.’
    • ‘Then they asked were they fresh water barnacles or salt water barnacles.’
    • ‘We sampled summer daytime low-tide temperatures of rock surfaces, anemones and barnacles.’
    • ‘Near the surface on the upper parts of the jetty piles are barnacles; the empty shells serve as shelters for small blennys.’
    • ‘Since both seastars and whelks feed most intensively on barnacles and mussels, they clearly co-occupy the predator guild in this community.’
    parasite, clinger, bloodsucker, cadger, passenger, layabout
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Used figuratively to describe a tenacious person or thing.
      ‘buses careered along with men hanging from their doors like barnacles’
      • ‘Stuck like a barnacle to his home, he relied on people sending him their barnacle collections by post.’
      • ‘She latches onto him like a barnacle and burrows under his skin like a tick, while he sputters protests and offers weak resistance.’
      • ‘Although this design approach was abandoned fairly quickly, the class name stuck, kind of like a barnacle.’
      • ‘I am offering an ethic of authenticity, removing all excuses that some philosophers attach to us like barnacles, blaming parents, climate, social class, whatever.’
      • ‘He carries his back muscles like a burden, and his head is attached to his shoulders like a barnacle to an ocean rock.’
      • ‘The strings attach themselves like barnacles to Fripp's guitar and refuse to be shaken loose.’
      • ‘But last year, I had one babe all over me like a barnacle.’
      • ‘Once placed in my arms he’d attach himself like a barnacle to a hull.’
      • ‘Like a barnacle, Bud's sticks to the dock, hidden from view.’
      • ‘From that hour I clove to Queequeg like a barnacle; yea, till poor Queequeg took his last long dive.’
      • ‘Too uncertain to advance with a raise, or retreat with a fold, I called, fastened to this pot like a barnacle.’
      • ‘Our story starts with Sarah, a self involved and rather whiny teen, desperately convinced of her own maturity yet clinging to childhood like a barnacle.’
      • ‘The one quality that they all shared, in the end, was stickability - the determination to cling to office with the tenacity of barnacles clinging to a crumbling wreck.’
      • ‘I had found myself clinging like a barnacle to a splintered oak beam.’

Origin

Late 16th century: from medieval Latin bernaca, of unknown origin. In Middle English the term denoted the barnacle goose, whose breeding grounds were long unknown and which was believed to hatch from the shell of the crustacean to which it gave its name.

Pronunciation

barnacle

/ˈbɑrnək(ə)l//ˈbärnək(ə)l/