barleycorn

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barleycorn

1. a grain of barley, or barley itself
2. an obsolete unit of length equal to one third of an inch
References in classic literature ?
But," I hastened to add (I always hasten to add), "John Barleycorn must have his due.
The 'Memoirs of an Alcoholic,'" I sneered--or, rather, John Barleycorn sneered; for he sat with me there at table in my pleasant, philanthropic jingle, and it is a trick of John Barleycorn to turn the smile to a sneer without an instant's warning.
In Britain, shoe size is measured in barleycorns - a medieval unit which defines an inch as three barleycorns.