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Beer foam on the bunghole of a barrel in a brewery.

A bunghole or bungehole is a hole bored in a liquid-tight barrel to remove contents. The hole is capped with a large cork-like object called a bung. Acceptable usage include other access points that may be capped with alternate materials providing an air- or water-tight access to other vessels. For example, a bunghole on a combustion chamber can be used to remove slag or add coal.[1] Bungholes can also be utilized to insert and remove sensing probes or equipment like mixers to agitate the contents within a vessel.[2]

Bungholes were first used on wooden barrels, and were typically bored by the purchaser of the barrel using a brace and bit. Bungholes can be bored in either head (end) of a barrel or in one of the staves (side). With the bung removed, a tapered faucet can be attached to aid with dispensing. When barrels full of a commodity were shipped, the recipient would often bore new bungholes of the most suitable size and placement rather than remove the existing bung. Wooden barrels manufactured by specialty firms today usually are bored by the maker with suitable bungholes, since the hobbyists who purchase them for the making of beer, wine, and fermented foods often do not have a suitable brace and bit[citation needed].

Closed-head steel barrels and drums now used for shipment of chemicals and petroleum products have a standardized bunghole arrangement, with one 2 inch NPT and one 3/4 inch NPT threaded bunghole on opposite sides of the top head. Some steel barrels are also equipped with a 2-inch threaded bunghole on the side.


Usage of the term as a slang word for the anus dates back to at least the 17th century, as shown in Thomas Urquhart's translation of Gargantua by François Rabelais, first published in 1653. "... I say and maintain, that of all torcheculs, arsewisps, bumfodders, tail-napkins, bunghole cleansers, and wipe-breeches, there is none in the world comparable to the neck of a goose ..."[3]

In the MTV cartoon series Beavis and Butt-head, the term "bunghole" was popularized as both a personal insult and slang for anus. In his Cornholio persona, Beavis says, "I need TP [toilet paper] for my bunghole." The two central characters also use the term when referring to one another. In one episode, the concept of a black hole is explained as a "bunghole in outer space".[4]

American President Lyndon B. Johnson is recorded[5] as having said the word "bunghole" while ordering slacks over the phone.

See also[edit]