bar code

variants: or barcode \ˈbär-ˌkōd \

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 \ adjective
bar coding noun

Examples of bar code in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The new model is buff, mysterious and (potentially) trouble, with a glowing face only a bar code could love. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "5 things to help you take off with Netflix's new 'Lost in Space'," 12 Apr. 2018 At its older warehouses, Ocado sends crates of grocery products and boxes for customers labeled with bar codes to enable sorting by the company’s software. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "Kroger Makes Bold Push to Boost Online Shopping," 17 May 2018 Using technology previously employed to track premium American cotton from gin to shirt, growers spray their legal plants with DNA that acts like a molecule-size encrypted bar code. Matt Allyn, Popular Mechanics, "How the Feds Will Use DNA To Track Legal Weed," 15 May 2018 The system, modeled after UPS’s system for tracking packages, will use bar codes to help track the kits from the hospital to the lab and to the police department. Ruth Bruno,, "Seven New State Laws That Took Effect July 1," 3 July 2018 To get the new Whole Foods discounts, Amazon said Prime customers can sign in to either scan a bar code generated by the grocer’s app or enter their phone number to qualify for the discounts. Laura Stevens, WSJ, "Prime Perks: Amazon Dangles Discounts for Whole Foods Shoppers," 16 May 2018 Also scan product bar codes with the Amazon, Target and Walmart apps. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Act now or your Toys R Us gift cards will be worthless," 20 Apr. 2018 The compounds are stored in liquids or powders in tiny glass capsules labeled with bar codes. Jonathan Saltzman,, "This Cambridge nonprofit is seeking every drug ever developed," 12 May 2018 Once inside a cell each virus expresses a unique 30-letter, or nucleotide, RNA sequence (a bar code consisting of the letters G, A, T, C), along with a protein that cells naturally transport along axons. Simon Makin, Scientific American, "“Bar Codes.” Could Trace Errant Brain Wiring in Autism and Schizophrenia," 30 Mar. 2018

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

Statistics for bar code

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bar code

The first known use of bar code was in 1963

See more words from the same year

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

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).


required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!