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barley1 (def 1).
a grain of barley.
a unit of length equal to 1/3 inch (8.5 mm).
Also, barley corn. a type of basket weave that produces an allover geometric pattern.
John, John Barleycorn.
Historical Examples

Few of them bore the somatic signs of intimacy with Mr. barleycorn.
Idling in Italy Joseph Collins

“Thank you,” said the woman; and she gave the fairy twelve shillings, which was the price of the barleycorn.
Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales Hans Christian Andersen

The lowest dimension, as in our own table of linear measure, was the barleycorn.
The Rand-McNally Bible Atlas Jesse L. Hurlbut

The accompanying illustrations show portions of longitudinal sections of a barleycorn magnified to different degrees.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 17, Slice 4 Various

The prevalence of this sign may be accounted for by the kindred love for the barleycorn in the human and gallinaceous tribes.
The History of Signboards Jacob Larwood

barleycorn, John, the exhilarating spirit distilled from barley personified.
The Nuttall Encyclopaedia Edited by Rev. James Wood

The histology of the barleycorn is best studied by the examination of sections under the microscope.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 17, Slice 4 Various

If she can cancel at once her bonds and barleycorn, so much the better.
Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Volume 20. July, 1877. Various

“When you speak in that tone you make me wish myself a barleycorn,” says Tedcastle, smiling.
Molly Bawn Margaret Wolfe Hamilton

Look ye, lads, an ye like not barleycorn, a pot of sack against the chill of the night!
In Search of Mademoiselle George Gibbs

a grain of barley, or barley itself
an obsolete unit of length equal to one third of an inch

late 14c., from barley + corn (n.). Perhaps to distinguish the barley plant or the grain from its products. In Britain and U.S., the grain is used mainly to prepare liquor, hence personification as John Barleycorn (1620) in popular ballad, and many now-obsolete figures of speech, e.g. to wear a barley cap (16c.) “to be drunk.”


Read Also:

  • Barley sack

    a burlap bag. Historical Examples And it would fill any one with admiration to see how he preserves his self-possession in the presence of a barley sack. The Innocents Abroad Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Barley sandwich

    noun (US & Canadian, informal) a drink of beer, esp at lunch time

  • Barley stripe

    a disease of barley, characterized by blighted heads and chlorotic, brown, or frayed stripes on the leaves, caused by a fungus, Helminthosporium gramineum.

  • Barley water

    a decoction of barley, used especially in the treatment of diarrhea in infants. Historical Examples Some children take more kindly to barley water than plain water at a very early age. The Eugenic Marriage, Vol 2 (of 4) W. Grant Hague To-night, as usual, they repaired to the sanctum, and drank their barley water. The […]

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