\ ˈbärb How to pronounce barb (audio) \

Definition of barb

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a medieval cloth headdress passing over or under the chin and covering the neck
2a : a sharp projection extending backward (as from the point of an arrow or fishhook) and preventing easy extraction also : a sharp projection with its point similarly oblique to something else
b : a biting or pointedly critical remark or comment
4 : any of the side branches of the shaft of a feather — see feather illustration
5 : a plant hair or bristle ending in a hook


barbed; barbing; barbs

Definition of barb (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

: to furnish with a barb

Definition of barb (Entry 3 of 4)

: any of a northern African breed of horses that are noted for speed and endurance

Definition of barb (Entry 4 of 4)


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Other Words from barb

Noun (1)

barbless \ ˈbärb-​ləs How to pronounce barb (audio) \ adjective

First Known Use of barb

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1759, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

circa 1610, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1955, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for barb

Noun (1)

Middle English barbe barb, beard, from Anglo-French, from Latin barba — more at beard

Noun (2)

French barbe, from Italian barbero, from barbero of Barbary, from Barberia Barbary, coastal region in Africa

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Time Traveler for barb

Time Traveler

The first known use of barb was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Barb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/barb. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for barb


\ ˈbärb How to pronounce barb (audio) \

Kids Definition of barb

: a sharp point that sticks out and backward (as from the tip of an arrow or fishhook)

Other Words from barb

barbed \ ˈbärbd \ adjective


\ ˈbärb How to pronounce barb (audio) \

Medical Definition of barb


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More from Merriam-Webster on barb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barb

Nglish: Translation of barb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about barb

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