bar·​ber·​ry ˈbär-ˌber-ē How to pronounce barberry (audio)
: any of a genus (Berberis of the family Berberidaceae, the barberry family) of shrubs usually having spines, usually yellow flowers, and oblong red or blackish berries

Examples of barberry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Berberine is a chemical that’s found in plants and fruit, like barberries. Ned Doyle, Robb Report, 19 July 2023 It’s been an ingredient in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and can be found in a variety of plants, including barberry, a shrub with tart berries, and goldenseal, a perennial herb with a thick, knotty root. WIRED, 31 July 2023 Japanese barberry was introduced in Boston in 1875 as a replacement for a European variety of barberry that harbored crop-damaging wheat rust. Leanne Potts, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Oct. 2021 Prized for its bitter, tart, and tangy notes, the barberry fruit (which, again, contains berberine) is a favorite seasoning for Persian rice dishes, says Dr. Sarbaziha. Danielle Blundell, Women's Health, 22 June 2023 Yucca, red barberry, prickly pear cactus, catclaw and gray thorn line the russet, rocky trail. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 16 June 2023 Berens said the Asian garden has bamboo, Japanese junipers, and dwarf Japanese barberries called Golden Nugget and Crimson Pigmy. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Journal Sentinel, 9 June 2023 Berberine is a natural alkaloid compound found in several plants, such as the goldenseal, barberry, and Oregan grape plants, says Fratellone. Cori Ritchey, Men's Health, 12 June 2023 El Calafate gets its name from the calafate berry (barberry), and there is a local legend that says whoever eats a calafate berry will return to Patagonia. Nora Walsh, Travel + Leisure, 5 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'barberry.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English berberie, from Medieval Latin berberis, from Arabic barbārīs

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of barberry was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near barberry

Cite this Entry

“Barberry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


bar·​ber·​ry ˈbär-ˌber-ē How to pronounce barberry (audio)
: any of a genus of spiny yellow-flowered shrubs with bright red or blackish berries

Medical Definition


ˈbär-ˌber-ē, British often & US sometimes -b(ə-)rē
plural barberries
: any shrub of the genus Berberis
: an evergreen shrub of the genus Mahonia (especially M. aquifolium)

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