"large cask or barrel," late 14c., presumably on some perceived resemblance or some mark formerly borne by the casks. The liquid measure was fixed at 63 (old) wine gallons (by a statute of 1423); later and for other liquids anywhere from 100 to 140 gallons. Borrowed into other Germanic languages, inexplicably, as ox-head (Dutch okshoofd, German oxhoft, Swedish oxhufvud). English might have gotten the word from them, but the forms of the Continental words suggest the reverse.
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