Definition of hogshead in US English:


(also hhd)


  • 1A large cask.

    • ‘The Gloucester trade peaked in 1857 with the arrival of twenty vessels carrying imports of 5,000 hogsheads of molasses and 1,000 hogsheads of sugar valued at $400,000.’
    • ‘Within months he had joined forces with him to make their first large shipment to London: 48 hogsheads and a quarter cask, sent to Robert Blake Byass, who was to become their UK agent.’
    • ‘Because of the remoteness of the site, wooden hogsheads were probably the most efficient means for transporting alcohol; they, unlike bottle glass, would have left few traces.’
    • ‘As tobacco cultivation spread westward into Kentucky and Tennessee, annual output increased from 110,000 to 160,000 hogsheads in the years 1790-1860.’
    • ‘Wine-maker Geoff Merrill then matures it in American oak hogsheads for two years.’
    • ‘Hurriedly, but with practiced ease and an air of calm and surety that she knew would alleviate some of the young man's terror, she pushed aside several hogshead barrels until she reached the back wall of the storeroom.’
    • ‘Tom finds him hiding in a hogshead behind the old slaughterhouse, and tries to get him to return to the Widow's home.’
    • ‘But numerous cards depict slaves picking tobacco, pressing it into hogsheads for transport, and sometimes consuming it.’
    • ‘He continued to grow limited amounts of coffee, however, and retained two skilled slaves to construct the hogsheads and barrels needed to ship his much diminished crop to port.’
    • ‘Once there, she ducked down into the shadows again and hid behind some hogshead barrels as a few sentinels turned the corner and passed by.’
    1. 1.1 A measure of capacity for wine, equal to 63 gallons (238.7 liters).
      • ‘City Tavern not only resuscitates these old style beverages; it sells hogsheads of them.’
      • ‘Turns out a Hogshead is a unit of measure equal to 2 barrels of wine.’
      • ‘In 1754 Maryland residents celebrated the twenty-third birthday of Frederick Calvert, Lord Baltimore, with a ball, cannon fire, a bonfire on the common, and a hogshead of punch.’
      • ‘To a hogshead of wine, add a bowlful of red wine pips dried and then boiled.’
    2. 1.2 A measure of capacity for beer, equal to 64 gallons (245.5 liters).
      • ‘He always gave them a hogshead of beer; and they all drank merrily to his health.’
      • ‘Thus ‘… if the party deceased were of good note, they will send to the wake hogsheads of excellent stale beer and wine from all parts, with other provisions, as beef & c.’’
      • ‘People were also smiling at Al, as he trudged up the hill with his accordion on his back and a hogshead of beer at his side.’


Middle English: from hog + head; the reason for the term is unknown.