Wheelbarrel or Wheelbarrow? Only One is Right

Is that contraption to haul things a wheelbarrel or wheelbarrow? Spellcheck barely lets me type one of them.

I was in line at a store the other day when I heard two older women talking about gardening. I thought I heard something unusual but it took hearing it a couple of more times before I spotted what my brain was picking out.

One of the women was talking about using her “wheelbarrel” to carry some sort of plants she was placing around her yard.

If you stop and think about it for a few minutes, longer than any rational person would ever spend thinking about such a thing, the notion of a “wheelbarrel” almost makes sense. After all, imagine taking a barrel, or a big oil drum, for example, cutting it half from top to bottom, taking one half and mounting it onto a frame with handles on one end and a big wheel on the other and you essentially have the very thing she meant to say.

The only trouble is there’s no such thing as a “wheelbarrel.”

My spellcheck is so determined to correct what it perceives as an obvious error that it didn’t stop autocorrecting the misspelling until I’d just typed it for the fifth time.

(If it could speak, my spellcheck would probably have just said, “Okay, fine. Be an idiot. See if I care.”)

Obviously, the woman meant to say a wheelbarrow, which is a device for hauling things.

But wheelbarrow is one of those words we hear more than we ever see spelled out, and when it comes to words like that, sometimes how we pronounce them depends on what we think we hear rather than what we’ve seen somewhere.

In her case, she must have misheard “wheelbarrel” or heard someone else mispronounce a “wheelbarrow” and have continued the tradition.

At least for you, as summer gardening season kicks into high gear, you’ll be able to avoid this mistake!


  1. what the hecks a ‘barrow’ I like barrel better. We always called the grassy edge of the road the ‘bar pit’. When I was reading, my book referred to a ‘barrow pit’. I’m so confused. Please send your response to me at Thanks, I’m so interested in what you know

    1. I know the meaning of both. We don’t use barrows anymore, but we still use barrels. Words change and so does the pronunciation. Otherwise we would still pronounce the “k” in knife.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.