bar·bar·ic | \bär-ˈber-ik, -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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from barbaric

barbarically \bär-ˈber-i-k(ə-)lē, -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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Finally, the free world had awakened to stop this barbaric brutality. Bryan Marquard,, "Lola Schuss, 96; wrote of experiences surviving four concentration camps," 9 July 2018 The kids are more like me, staring at the disappearing hill or the sleds or the table nearby where Kelly brought tools of the luge trade: motorcycle-looking helmet, leather boots, skin-tight uniform and those barbaric-looking gloves. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: USA Luge's search for next great Winter Olympian visits Indianapolis," 28 June 2018 Get our daily newsletter Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s president, condemned the attacks as barbaric. The Economist, "Islamists in Indonesia deploy their own children in suicide attacks," 17 May 2018 Other missives describe barbaric, Miracle Whip-eating enemy soldiers and pitched battles over Starbucks and Chick-fil-A shops. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Letters from the 'front' on Twitter mock prediction of second Civil War on July 4," 3 July 2018 To paraphrase Theodor Adorno, writing poetry after Auschwitz may be barbaric, but what about tourism? Peter Keough,, "An immigrant story, atrocity tourism, the future of Barbie," 28 June 2018 This barbaric practice happens across the country every day. Brian Barnett, STAT, "Jails and prisons: the unmanned front in the battle against the opioid epidemic," 2 July 2018 Most decent Americans think that Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ policy of separating families at the border (and subsequently losing thousands of kids) is barbaric. Jason Johnson, The Root, "It’s Not Slavery, It’s Not Japanese Internment: Trump’s Immigration Policy Is Like the Great Migration," 20 June 2018 Organizer Michelle Wentz says opposition to the administration’s ‘‘barbaric and inhumane’’ policy has seemed to cross political party lines. Ellen Knickmeyer,, "Major cities, tiny towns host immigration policy protests," 30 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of barbaric

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about barbaric

Statistics for barbaric

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barbaric

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

Kids Definition of barbaric

1 : barbarous

2 : showing a lack of restraint barbaric power

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on barbaric

What made you want to look up barbaric? 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?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!