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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
A grain of barley, and thus a measure taken from the length of a grain of barley, three of which (sometimes four) were considered to make up an inch. The barley-corn has been personified as representing the malt liquor made from barley, as in Burns's song "John Barleycorn."
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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Barley-Corn'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/b/barley-corn.html. 1910.