barleycorn


barleycorn
   an old English unit of length equal to 1/3 inch or about 8.5 millimeters. The custom of using seeds as units of length or weight is very common in farming societies. In Anglo-Saxon England, where barley was a basic crop, barleycorns played this traditional role. The weight of a barleycorn, later renamed the grain, is the original basis of all English weight systems including the older troy system and the later avoirdupois system. As a length unit, 3 barleycorns were equal to the Saxon ynce (inch). The English foot was actually defined as 12 of these ynces, that is, as 36 barleycorns.

Dictionary of units of measurement. 2015.

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  • Barleycorn — may mean:* a grain of barley * English unit of length equal to 1/3 inch * John Barleycorn, an ancient folksong * William N Barleycorn, a Primitive Methodist missionary in Fernando Po * John Barleycorn (novel) by writer Jack London …   Wikipedia

  • Barleycorn — Bar ley*corn , n. [See {Corn}.] 1. A grain or corn of barley. [1913 Webster] 2. Formerly, a measure of length, equal to the average length of a grain of barley; the third part of an inch. [1913 Webster] {John Barleycorn}, a humorous… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • barleycorn — late 14c., from BARLEY (Cf. barley) + CORN (Cf. 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)… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Barleycorn — John see JOHN BARLEYCORN …   English World dictionary

  • barleycorn — [bär′lēkôrn΄] n. [ME barli corn] 1. barley or a grain of barley 2. an old unit of linear measure equal to 1/ 3 inch …   English World dictionary

  • Barleycorn — /bahr lee kawrn /, n. John. See John Barleycorn. * * * …   Universalium

  • Barleycorn — Bar•ley•corn [[t]ˈbɑr liˌkɔrn[/t]] n. John John Barleycorn …   From formal English to slang

  • barleycorn — /ˈbalikɔn/ (say bahleekawn) noun 1. barley, or a grain of barley. 2. Obsolete a measure equal to one third of an inch. 3. See John Barleycorn …   Australian English dictionary

  • barleycorn — noun Date: 1500 1. a grain of barley 2. an old unit of length equal to a third of an inch …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • barleycorn — /bahr lee kawrn /, n. 1. barley. 2. a grain of barley. 3. a measure equal to 1/3 in. (8.5 mm). 4. Also, barley corn. a type of basket weave that produces an allover geometric pattern. [1375 1425; late ME. See BARLEY1, CORN1] * * * …   Universalium

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