Wednesday Words and Phrases: Lock, Stock and Barrel

Lock, Stock and Barrel

Lock, Stock and Barrel

The phrase “lock, stock and barrel” generally means all of something. For example, “We cleaned out the garage lock, stock and barrel.” In modern times it was thought to refer to when someone bought a new farm they would own it completely including the lock for the front door, the stock as in livestock (animals y’all), and the water barrel that collected the water. It however is much older than that.

In fact, it can be traced back to the 16th century when matchlock firearms were reaching wide-spread use. See there were three parts to any firearm at the time.

The lock, which held the match and when the trigger was pulled ignite the powder in the pan leading to the firearm going off.

The stock, which was the part of the firearm that helped the lock and barrel in place.

And the barrel which the ammunition needed to travel through once the gun was fired.

So in order to have a functioning firearm you needed all the pieces, a lock, a stock and a barrel.