Barrels often have a convex shape, bulging at the middle. This constant bulge makes it easier to roll a well-built wooden barrel on its side, changing directions with little friction. It also helps to distribute stress evenly in the material by making the container more spherical.
Casks used for ale or beer have shives and keystones in their openings. Before serving the beer a spile is hammered into the shive and a tap into the keystone.
The rings holding a wooden barrel together are called "hoops" and are generally made of galvanized iron, though historically were made from flexible bits of wood called withies. While wooden hoops could require barrels to be "fully hooped", with hoops stacked tightly together along the entire top and bottom third of a barrel, iron-hooped barrels only require a few hoops on each end. The "head hoop" or "chime hoop" is the hoop nearest the extremes of a barrel, the chime being the beveled edge and the head being the flat circular top or bottom of the barrel. The "bilge hoops" are those nearest the bilge, or bulging center, while the "quarter hoop" is located between the two. The stopper used to seal the (bung)hole in a barrel is called the bung and mostly made of silicone.
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In shape and gesture proudly eminent
Stood like a Towr; his form had yet not lost
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Of Glory obscurd: As when the Sun new risn
Looks through the Horizontal misty Air
Shorn of his Beams, or from behind the Moon
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On half the Nations, and with fear of change
—John Milton (16081674)
“But a camels all lumpy
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—Charles Edward Carryl (18411920)
“Different persons growing up in the same language are like different bushes trimmed and trained to take the shape of identical elephants. The anatomical details of twigs and branches will fulfill the elephantine form differently from bush to bush, but the overall outward results are alike.”
—Willard Van Orman Quine (b. 1908)