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any marine crustacean of the subclass Cirripedia, usually having a calcareous shell, being either stalked (goose barnacle) and attaching itself to ship bottoms and floating timber, or stalkless (rock barnacle or acorn barnacle) and attaching itself to rocks, especially in the intertidal zone.
a person or thing that clings tenaciously.
Usually, barnacles. an instrument with two hinged branches for pinching the nose of an unruly horse.
barnacles, British Dialect, spectacles (def 3).
Contemporary Examples

Playing an aging superhero named Merman (with sidekick barnacle Boy), Borgnine takes on the “champion of the deep.”
The Best of Ernest Borgnine: ‘Marty,’ ‘McHale’s Navy’ & More (VIDEO) The Daily Beast Video July 8, 2012

Historical Examples

Both words being popularly corrupted into barnacle, it was natural that the two things should be considered as identical.
Myth-Land F. Edward Hulme

The barnacle family had for some time helped to administer the Circumlocution Office.
Little Dorrit Charles Dickens

To have got the whole barnacle family together would have been impossible for two reasons.
Little Dorrit Charles Dickens

“I bet the barnacle haunts Purt in his dreams,” exclaimed Bobby.
The Girls of Central High in Camp Gertrude W. Morrison

You haven’t got any appointment, you know,’ said barnacle Junior.
Little Dorrit Charles Dickens

“Nor could he have been the person we—and the barnacle—have been trailing,” she said, suddenly.
The Girls of Central High in Camp Gertrude W. Morrison

The passage referring to “the barnacle” will be found in the Topog.
Notes & Queries 1849.12.22 Various

Do let the barnacle keep the sheriff up in that tree for a little while longer.
The Girls of Central High in Camp Gertrude W. Morrison

“Looks as though he had finally gotten rid of the barnacle, just the same,” laughed Laura.
The Girls of Central High in Camp Gertrude W. Morrison

any of various marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that, as adults, live attached to rocks, ship bottoms, etc. They have feathery food-catching cirri protruding from a hard shell See acorn barnacle, goose barnacle
a person or thing that is difficult to get rid of

early 13c., “species of wild goose;” as a type of “shellfish,” first recorded 1580s. Often derived from a Celtic source (cf. Breton bernik, a kind of shellfish), but the application to the goose predates that of the shellfish in English. The goose nests in the Arctic in summer and returns to Europe in the winter, hence the mystery surrounding its reproduction. It was believed in ancient superstition to hatch from barnacle’s shell, possibly because the crustacean’s feathery stalks resemble goose down. The scientific name of the crustacean, Cirripedes, is from Greek cirri “curls of hair” + pedes “feet.”
Any of various small marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that form a hard shell in the adult stage and attach themselves to underwater surfaces, such as rocks, the bottoms of ships, and the skin of whales.


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