bar·​bar·​ic | \ bär-ˈber-ik How to pronounce barbaric (audio) , -ˈba-rik \

Definition of barbaric

1a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a group of people who are alien to another land, culture, or people and who are usually believed to be inferior : of, relating to, or characteristic of barbarians
b : possessing or characteristic of a cultural level more complex than primitive (see primitive entry 1 sense 2c) culture but less sophisticated than advanced civilization (see civilization sense 1a)
2a : marked by a lack of restraint : wild a barbaric use of color
b : having a bizarre, primitive, or unsophisticated quality … I sound my barbaric yawp …— Walt Whitman the tangled, loose barbaric magnificence of the Elizabethan dramaThink
3 : barbarous sense 3 barbaric crimes

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Other Words from barbaric

barbarically \ bär-​ˈber-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce barbaric (audio) , -​ˈba-​ri-​ \ adverb

Examples of barbaric in a Sentence

Barbaric tribes invaded the area. His table manners are barbaric. They considered the custom barbaric. The treatment of the prisoners was positively barbaric.
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Recent Examples on the Web The bill ends the barbaric practice of juvenile shackling in court. Editorial Board, Star Tribune, 1 July 2021 Europe, Krebs says, was for the Ethiopians a mysterious and perhaps even slightly barbaric land with an interesting history and, importantly, sacred stuff that Ethiopian kings could obtain. David M. Perry, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 June 2021 At the start of the barbaric 71-70 sequence, the Clippers went to one of their pet actions. Shane Young, Forbes, 27 June 2021 Donna Tartt’s debut novel, The Secret History, chronicles a cultlike collegiate friend group that, after a barbaric act of bacchanalia, spectacularly unravels. Vogue, 25 June 2021 On the surface, the primitive logic goes like this: Hamas is a murderous, barbaric organization that wants only to kill as many Israelis as possible and is continuously building up its military capabilities to that end. David Shulman, The New York Review of Books, 3 June 2021 But the barbaric medical treatments were all too real. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2021 America's outlook on justice remains broken, barbaric and inhuman. Tori B. Powell, CBS News, 20 May 2021 Sharia is often portrayed as barbaric and particularly regressive in terms of women’s rights. Mark Fathi Massoud, The Conversation, 18 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barbaric.' 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 barbaric

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of barbaric was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

28 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Barbaric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for barbaric



English Language Learners Definition of barbaric

: of or relating to barbarians
: very rude or offensive : not polite or proper
: very cruel


bar·​bar·​ic | \ bär-ˈber-ik How to pronounce barbaric (audio) \

Kids Definition of barbaric

1 : barbarous
2 : showing a lack of restraint barbaric power

More from Merriam-Webster on barbaric

Nglish: Translation of barbaric for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barbaric for Arabic Speakers


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