English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm fairly confident that it's not a mangled 'Wheeled Barrel'. I've heard of barrows in reference to deep graves, or underground storage chambers.

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Hot Licks, ab2, jimm101, Nathaniel, Mitch Mar 27 at 2:18

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

From Merriam-Webster:

Origin of BARROW

Middle English barew, from Old English bearwe; akin to Old English beran to carry — more at bear First Known Use: before 12th century

The addition of "hand" or "wheel" serves to indicate how it is moved along.

share|improve this answer

Another definition of barrow is an apparatus for carrying things. The OED gives this:

A utensil for the carrying of a load by two or more men; a stretcher, a bier; spec. a flat rectangular frame of transverse bars, having shafts or ‘trams’ before and behind, by which it is carried; sometimes with four legs to raise it from the ground. Now more usually called hand-barrow to distinguish it from the wheel-barrow.

Looks like the early wheel-barrows where stretchers or shallow boxes (upon a single wheel).

share|improve this answer

They are two different words - that just happen to have ended up with the same spelling.

barrow (1) "vehicle for carrying a load," c.1300, barewe, probably from an unrecorded O.E. *bearwe "basket, barrow," from beran "to bear, to carry"

barrow (2) "mound," O.E. beorg (W.Saxon), berg (Anglian) "barrow, mountain, hill, mound," from P.Gmc. *bergaz (cf. O.S., O.Fris., O.H.G. berg "mountain," O.N. bjarg "rock"), from PIE base *bheregh- "high, elevated"


share|improve this answer

The distinguishing mark of a wheelbarrow, as opposed to the ordinary barrow or handcart used by street vendors including sweet Molly Malone, is that it has only one wheel.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Mar 26 at 13:02

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.