bar code

variants: or barcode \ ˈbär-​ˌkōd How to pronounce bar code (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

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Other Words from bar code

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

Examples of bar code in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Caught using a bar code for a 28-cent item to ring up 24 items totaling $241, an Eastlake woman, 63, was detained for theft at 4 p.m. Dec. 26 at Walmart. Joan Rusek, cleveland, "Police plug the cork on New Year’s Eve champagne party: Bainbridge Township Police Blotter," 14 Jan. 2021 Affixed to each box is a bar code that allows visitors to access the Messages of Hope website to learn about the artist and their work. Donald Liebenson,, "Art exhibition offers ‘Messages of Hope’ on trail at Highland Park nature center," 15 Dec. 2020 Yet the Post Office does automatically bar code every envelope that goes through its scanners these days. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "An Expert on Voting Machines Explains How They Work," 3 Nov. 2020 Students and staff participating in the voluntary screenings at New Trier will receive kits including small tubes, plastic baggies, bar code stickers and instructions for collecting saliva samples at home, Johnson said. Karen Ann Cullotta,, "New Trier High School to spend up to $1.3 million on COVID-19 saliva screenings for students, staff," 23 Oct. 2020 Tulu — which is used by Thrifty Car Rental and Uber — provides a purple decal with a QR code, a type of bar code, as proof that an area is clean and healthy. Washington Post, "How to tell if your airline seat, hotel room or rental car is clean," 4 Nov. 2020 The computer then generates a label with a bar code that is affixed to the absentee ballot application. Torey Van Oot, Star Tribune, "Heavy turnout, long lines to drop off ballots in Minnesota," 31 Oct. 2020 Target also announced additional measures to try to maintain safety during the holidays, such as allowing customers to show a PIN code on their smartphones through a car window — instead of employees scanning a bar code — to confirm orders. John Ewoldt, Star Tribune, "Rising COVID-19 cases heighten worker safety concerns for Minnesota retailers," 7 Nov. 2020 The Post Office has the records to tell you when that bar code was applied. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "An Expert on Voting Machines Explains How They Work," 3 Nov. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of bar code

1963, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for bar code

Time Traveler

The first known use of bar code was in 1963

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Statistics for bar code

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bar code.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on 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

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