bar·​bar·​ic bär-ˈber-ik How to pronounce barbaric (audio)
: 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
: 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)
: marked by a lack of restraint : wild
a barbaric use of color
: having a bizarre, primitive, or unsophisticated quality
… I sound my barbaric yawp …Walt Whitman
the tangled, loose barbaric magnificence of the Elizabethan dramaThink
: barbarous sense 3
barbaric crimes
barbarically adverb

Example Sentences

Barbaric tribes invaded the area. His table manners are barbaric. They considered the custom barbaric. The treatment of the prisoners was positively barbaric.
Recent Examples on the Web The protest would be against the extremes of the almost barbaric activity of the humans. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 13 Jan. 2023 Fortunately, there have been some initiatives and advocacy that have eliminated the barbaric practice of shackling. Maggie Freleng, Rolling Stone, 9 Jan. 2023 The biggest armed conflict in Europe since the Second World War rages on as Russia, with barbaric intensity and kamikaze drones, seeks to eviscerate its neighbor Ukraine. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 29 Dec. 2022 Electroconvulsive therapy is often portrayed as a barbaric, brain-destroying practice. Kate Golembiewski, Discover Magazine, 15 Dec. 2022 Head engaged in some of the most barbaric violence during the Capitol riot, repeatedly assaulting police officers who were guarding a tunnel on the Lower West Terrace, according to prosecutors. Michael Kunzelman, ajc, 28 Oct. 2022 In contrast, the fact that women in Saudi Arabia are effectively rendered property of their male relatives is barbaric, but not objectionable enough that it must be eliminated through force. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 29 Dec. 2011 That illusion was shattered as the villains, Na’vi bodies imbued with the memories of dead U.S. Marines, allied with a crew of human whalers from New Zealand (?) to hunt the tulkun in such barbaric fashion as to draw Sully out of hiding. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 18 Dec. 2022 There can never be too many movies, documentaries or films showing the barbaric truth of slavery, a subject White-supremacists have tried to wash out of history. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, 17 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near barbaric

Cite this Entry

“Barbaric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


bar·​bar·​ic bär-ˈbar-ik How to pronounce barbaric (audio)
: of, relating to, or characteristic of barbarians

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