Before anyone could stop him, the boy in the wheelchair was barreling toward the laughing bullies.

Hi. I would like to know if barreling seems a good choice in this context to mean he's riding really fast in his wheelchair toward the bullies as if to attack them? Or do you have some better ones?


That's a perfectly good use of the word! However, it dates back to the idea of a barrel rolling down a hill, and some inexperienced readers might not have heard that usage. That said, I think it's quite appropriate here, in essence, comparing the rolling wheelchair to that barrel, and I think that hypothetical reader could understand it from context.


For some reason, I feel the need for some indication of the space being traversed. I find support for that here:

barrel ​VERB INTRANSITIVE ​INFORMAL UK 1 to move very quickly in a deliberate or determined way barrel down/into/through etc: David was barrelling down the hall towards her. https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/barrel_2

Thus, I personally would be more comfortable with, e.g.

the boy in the wheelchair was barrelling down the path toward the laughing bullies


I notice that the verb is described as British. If so, then the spelling requires double "l" - "barrelling".

If however the usage is known in the US, (and your story takes place there) a single "l" is correct.

  • The usage is known in the US. There is a sign outside of Tampa, Florida that says "Please don't barrel through" in reference to dangerous driving. :) – FeliniusRex Feb 11 at 15:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.