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 barbarically (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 At which point, the early abolitionist Granville Sharp caught wind of the case and began chronicling the barbaric behavior of the Zong’s crew in contemporary newspaper accounts. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "The insurance case that helped end the slave trade," 19 June 2020 The barbaric game was widely played from the 1800s into the mid-1900s, prevalent at all manner of fairs and carnivals, as well as in the media of the time. Eric Litke, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Racist carnival game featured in 1942 Milwaukee YMCA brochure," 12 June 2020 Once barbaric, soon to be legal: Reversing an Obama administration rule, the National Park Service is allowing the killing of wolves and coyotes in Alaska, including pups, during the season when mothers wean their young. National Geographic, "How do you steer clear of dangerous animals?," 11 June 2020 Why do their barbaric brands of violence appeal to young people around the globe? Stephen D. Reicher, Scientific American, "Fueling Terror: How Extremists Are Made," 25 Mar. 2016 The new Amazon series Hunters is facing backlash for depicting a barbaric game of human chess at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. Emma Hagedoorn, Washington Examiner, "Auschwitz museum criticizes Amazon series Hunters for imagined human chess scene," 24 Feb. 2020 It was aimed at a barbaric plan to dump waste from a paper-processing plant on the shores of Lake Baikal into the river which supplied the city’s water. The Economist, "Siberia is an empty land filled with contradictions," 21 Dec. 2019 Kalder writes, as many have before, about Mao’s successful courtship of Western writers and leaders, who kept the Maoist myth alive as his cult descended into barbaric absurdity. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Field Guide to Tyranny," 16 Dec. 2019 Ngor had lived through the horrors inflicted by the barbaric Khmer Rouge army, which swept through Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 at the direction of the country’s ruthless dictator, Pol Pot. Kc Baker,, "The Killing Fields Actor Killed in 1996 L.A. Shooting Told World About Brutal Khmer Rouge Regime," 2 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for barbaric

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

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Statistics for barbaric

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barbaric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for barbaric


How to pronounce barbaric (audio)

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

2 : showing a lack of restraint barbaric power

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