Definition of firkin in US English:



  • 1A small cask formerly used for liquids, butter, or fish.

    • ‘Our first cask conditioned ale night will feature a firkin of Oatmeal Stout.’
    • ‘Her own father was a cooper in Kilaville and made the firkins there.’
    • ‘If that wasn't enough he has provided T-shirts for the gang to wear on the ride (no yellow jerseys required) and thrown in five firkins of beer.’
    • ‘But Craig, a former club footballer and referee, is confident the team has a good chance of winning and has donated a firkin to the players for after the game.’
    • ‘A firkin of the four per cent beer has already been donated to the players but whether they will use it to toast their success or drown their sorrows remains to be seen.’
    1. 1.1 A unit of liquid volume equal to half a kilderkin (about 11 gallons or 41 liters).
      • ‘Other sizes were the firkin, kilderkin and hogshead.’
      • ‘Five firkins - that's about 360 pints or 41 litres - of Black Satin, his latest brew, were snapped up from his brewery.’
      • ‘The 655 rack will hold either two firkins or kils in a one over one configuration.’
      • ‘If you take a barrel to be two kilderkins and a kilderkin to be two firkins (which are themselves, of course, nine gallons), then the saving works out at about 14p per pint.’
      • ‘The filled casks were then brought on small carts or by packhorses, each carrying two firkins.’


Middle English ferdekyn, probably from the Middle Dutch diminutive of vierde ‘fourth’ (a firkin originally contained a quarter of a barrel).