General Science

  • noun a small invertebrate animal with a shell that clings to rocks and ships and draws food to itself by using slender hairs


  • A cylindrical stalk-like crustacean, Pollicipes cornucopia, up to 15 cm long, which is found on sea-washed rocks around the Atlantic coast. The foot with which it attaches itself to the rock and the tough papery skin covered in small scales are discarded. May be eaten raw or cooked. Popular in Spain and Portugal.

Origin & History of “barnacle”

The term barnacle was originally applied to a type of goose, Branta leucopsis, which according to medieval legend grew on trees or on logs of wood. Various fanciful versions of its reproductive cycle existed, among them that it emerged from a fruit or that it grew attached to a tree by its beak, but the most tenacious was that it developed inside small shellfish attached to wood, rocks, etc by the seashore. Hence by the end of the 16th century the term had come to be applied to these shellfish, and today that is its main sense. The word was originally bernak (it gained its -le ending in the 15th century) and came from medieval Latin bernaca, but its ultimate source is unknown.