bar code

variants: or barcode \ ˈbär-​ˌkōd How to pronounce barcode (audio) \

Definition of bar code

1 : a code consisting of a group of printed and variously patterned bars and spaces and sometimes numerals that is designed to be scanned and read into computer memory and that contains information (such as identification) about the object it labels
2 biology : something (such as a DNA sequence) that uniquely identifies a species of organism …they now plan to analyze each fish sample by decoding a certain tiny piece of DNA that can serve as a unique bar code for the species.— Christen Brownlee

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bar code

bar-coded \ ˈbär-​ˌkō-​dəd How to pronounce bar-coded (audio) \ adjective
bar coding noun

Examples of bar code in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Gift receipts include a bar code that allows a return without listing the price of the item. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Yikes! You hate that gift you got for Christmas. Here's what to know about holiday returns," 20 Dec. 2019 Customers shopping at a store can scan a single bar code when checking out to redeem all of the clipped coupons. Madison Iszler, Houston Chronicle, "H-E-B launches new mobile app," 11 Dec. 2019 Customers scan an item’s bar code on a service monitor to request another size, according to a company spokeswoman. Marcia Heroux Pounds,, "5 new reasons to shop at stores -- not just online," 7 Nov. 2019 Each product has four bar codes on its packaging so that cashiers can scan items faster. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz,, "Budget Shangri-La: How discount chain Aldi is giving those fancy grocery stores a run for their money," 6 Dec. 2019 Severinov speculates that a CRISPR sequence might act as a kind of genetic bar code. Quanta Magazine, "Breakthrough DNA Editor Born of Bacteria," 6 Feb. 2015 Theft, Westgate On Nov. 13 a man was caught at Target changing bar codes on merchandise to pay less money. cleveland, "Officers arrest man for changing bar codes on merchandise: Fairview Park Police Blotter," 22 Nov. 2019 To fight counterfeiting, Ticketmaster recently launched SafeTix, which creates an encrypted bar code that refreshes every few seconds. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Billboard's 2019 Digital Power Players Revealed," 18 Nov. 2019 Fans need to either get tickets from the box office on game day or use the Magic App or Ticketmaster’s app to display bar codes on their phones for admission. Iliana Limón Romero,, "Magic fan guide: Everything Orlando fans need to know," 23 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bar code.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bar code

1963, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bar code

Time Traveler for bar code

Time Traveler

The first known use of bar code was in 1963

See more words from the same year

Statistics for bar code

Last Updated

4 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bar code.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bar code

bar code


English Language Learners Definition of bar code

: a group of thick and thin lines that is placed on a product so that a computer can get the price of the product and other information about it

bar code


Kids Definition of bar code

: a group of thick and thin lines placed on a product that represents computerized information about the product (as price)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on bar code

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bar code

Spanish Central: Translation of bar code

Nglish: Translation of bar code for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bar code for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bar code

Comments on bar code

What made you want to look up bar code? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!