AskDefine | Define barracks

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Plural of barrack
  2. A group of buildings used by military personnel as housing

Verb form

  1. third-person singular of barrack

Extensive Definition

Barracks are living quarters for personnel on a military post. They are typically very plain and all of the buildings in the housing unit are often uniform structures. The term can also be used to describe the building(s) in which convicts are housed. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the term barrack is derived from the French baraque or Italian baracca and originally meant a temporary hut or cabin. It may also be derived from the Valencian word barraca. It was not until 1690s that the word was used to describe a place of lodgement or residence for soldiers.


There are a number of remains of Roman army barracks in frontier forts such as Vercovicium and Vindolanda. From these and from contemporary Roman sources we can see that the basics of life in a military camp have remained constant for thousands of years.
Ravensdowne Barracks Berwick Upon Tweed, were among the first in England to be purpose-built, begun in 1717 to the design of the distinguished architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. Today the Barracks hosts a number of attractions, including ‘By Beat of Drum’ – an exhibition on the life of the British infantryman, as well as being home to the King's Own Scottish Borderers Museum.
Barracks blockhouses were used to house troops in forts in Upper Canada. The Stone Frigate, completed in 1820, served as a barracks briefly in 1837-38, and was refitted as a dormitory and classrooms to house the Royal Military College of Canada by 1876. The Stone frigate is a large stone building originally designed to hold gear and rigging from British warships dismantled to comply with the Rush-Bagot Agreement.


In many militaries, NCOs and enlisted personnel will frequently be housed in barracks for service or training. Junior enlisted and sometimes junior NCOs will often receive less space and may be housed in bays, while senior NCOs and officers may share or have their own room. "Garrison town" is a common expression for any town that has a military barracks, i.e., a permanent military presence.


U.S. Armed Forces

In basic training, and sometimes follow-on training, servicemembers live in barracks. The U.S. Marine Corps have gender-separate basic training units. The U.S. Army has gender-separate basic training, but like the United States Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, has training where male and female recruits share barracks, but are separated during personal time and lights out. However, all the services integrate male and female members following boot camp and first assignment.
Currently the U.S. military house junior-enlisted unmarried in barracks. Other ranks will also be housed in the case of training or temporary duty assignments. Servicemembers are now generally housed in individual rooms conforming.
Unlike the other services, barracks in the U.S. Air Force are officially referred to as "dormitories."
During World War II, many U.S. barracks were made of inexpensive, sturdy and easy to assemble Quonset huts that resembled Native American long house (being semi-circular but made out of metal).

See also

  • Cantonment, a temporary or semi-permanent military quarters.


External links

barracks in Catalan: Quarter
barracks in Danish: Kaserne
barracks in German: Kaserne
barracks in Modern Greek (1453-): Στρατόπεδο
barracks in Spanish: Cuartel (milicia)
barracks in Esperanto: Kazerno
barracks in French: Caserne
barracks in Italian: Caserma
barracks in Dutch: Kazerne
barracks in Japanese: バラック
barracks in Norwegian: Brakke
barracks in Polish: Koszary
barracks in Russian: Казарма
barracks in Simple English: Barrack
barracks in Finnish: Kasarmi
barracks in Swedish: Kasern
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