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Wheelbarrel vs wheelbarrow 2018

I overheard a landscaper yesterday talking to his colleagues about a “wheelbarrel”. This is an occasional mistake people make; indeed when I worked at the Canadian Oxford Dictionary department we had a letter from someone who said she had a bet with her boyfriend about it and a pizza was riding on the outcome! if you want to buy best wheelbarrow check the list. read continue Wheelbarrel vs wheelbarrow .

It’s not surprising that people change “barrow” into “barrel” because “barrow”, originally something like a stretcher on legs with shafts by which it could be lifted, is not a common word anymore. This phenomenon of exchanging an unfamiliar word to a similar sounding familiar one has been quite common over the course of the history of the language. For instance, as we saw earlier, the Old English word “goom” became “groom”.

Another phenomenon favouring the understanding of “Barrow” as “barrel” is that terminal l’s are often swallowed up in speech, or in some varieties of the language turned into a vowel, so some people will say “barrel” as if it were “barrew”.

“Barrel” came into English from French; its ultimate origin is unknown. “Barrow”, on the other hand, like most garden equipment terms, likely goes back to Anglo-Saxon, related to the word “bear” (carry).

REMINDER: March 16 “Tea and Wordlady”: Bachelor for Rent: Things You Never Suspected About Canadian English. More info here:

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If you find the English language fascinating, you should check out my entertaining history of the English language courses. “Wheelbarrel vs wheelbarrow”

People Reaction: Wheelbarrel vs wheelbarrow

Angela Erdy  

Thanks to everyone for the clarification. I grew up using words that really didn’t properly exist. Such as “arn” instead of “iron” or “crick” intead of “creek”. I did grow up saying wheelbarrow instead of wheelbarrel. So I did have that right, but at some point started to second guess myself. Thinking every word I said was wrong. Growing up in an old coal mining town, I learned all kinds of words that I took for granted as correct. I still find people looking at me with confusion over things I say. Thanks to people such as yourselves I can get some clarification. That being said, I do find beauty in mispronounced words, somehow it warms my heart.


Haha! Well, your heart would have been SO warmed if you had heard me speak as a young child! That moment when you ask for a “Napoleon” ice cream sandwich at the swimming pool snack counter, and amongst all the laughter someone FINALLY tells you that it’s pronounced “neopolitan” … And you sit there thinking-how many times have I said it that way, and all this time I was wrong…” I couldn’t help it though! My parents always said it that way, and unfortunately that wasn’t the only word I eventually (sometimes painfully) discovered I’d been mispronouncing! I quickly made it a priority to learn how to say (and write) things properly, because I didn’t like to be teased, and I also just didn’t want to be wrong (just ‘because’)! Wouldn’t it be nice to see more of this generation wanting to learn proper English ‘just because’? There is actually great power in having a broad vocabulary and learning to effectively express yourself through your words.

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