One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A cask for liquids or other substances, holding 16 or 18 gallons.
- ‘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.’
- ‘Other sizes were the firkin (9 gallons; from medieval Dutch meaning ‘a fourth’, that is, a quarter of a barrel), kilderkin (18 gallon; half a barrel) and hogshead.’
- 1.1 A unit of measurement equivalent to the contents of a kilderkin.
- ‘A kilderkin is an old English liquid measure, dating from about the 13th century, equal to 16 (old and ill-defined) gallons, or half a barrel.’
Late Middle English: from Middle Dutch kinderkin, variant of kinerkijn, diminutive of kintal (see quintal).
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