bar code

variants: or barcode \ ˈbär-​ˌkōd How to pronounce barcode (audio) \

Definition of bar code

1 : a code consisting of a group of printed and variously patterned bars and spaces and sometimes numerals that is designed to be scanned and read into computer memory and that contains information (such as identification) about the object it labels
2 biology : something (such as a DNA sequence) that uniquely identifies a species of organism …they now plan to analyze each fish sample by decoding a certain tiny piece of DNA that can serve as a unique bar code for the species.— Christen Brownlee

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Other Words from bar code

bar-coded \ ˈbär-​ˌkō-​dəd How to pronounce bar-coded (audio) \ adjective
bar coding noun

Examples of bar code in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That approach creates a bar code that gets scanned during major steps of a letter's voyage through the mail system. Matt Wynn And Dan Keemahill, USA TODAY, "How USA TODAY is measuring swing state mail leading up to the election, and beyond," 2 Oct. 2020 Dave Lewis, the president of SnailWorks, explained that each letter sent by a commercial mailer gets a bar code. New York Times, "Has the Mail Really Slowed? We Wanted to Find Out," 24 Sep. 2020 This bar code tracking produces reams of data every day. New York Times, "Has the Mail Really Slowed? We Wanted to Find Out," 24 Sep. 2020 Infectious particles swabbed from a patient’s nose carry small but distinctive differences in its genome that can be used, like a molecular bar code, to track where the virus came from and how it had been transmitted. Anchorage Daily News, "The code: How genetic science helped expose a secret coronavirus outbreak," 24 Sep. 2020 In 2017 Greaves observed Venus with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, searching for bar code–like patterns of lines in the planet’s spectrum that would indicate the presence of different chemicals. Adam Mann, Scientific American, "Venus Might Host Life, New Discovery Suggests," 14 Sep. 2020 After patrons arrive, employees behind plexiglass shields scan a bar code from either a paper ticket or mobile phone. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "At Baltimore’s Senator Theatre, less people and more space define going to the movies during the coronavirus era," 10 Sep. 2020 State of Mexico officials are strictly rationing the documents, which have a bar code and are numbered to avoid fraud and other possible crimes. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Coronavirus Scourge Leaves Mexico Short of Death Certificates," 5 Sep. 2020 When the mortgage is funded, the paper records get boxed, stamped with a bar code, and go into the lender’s warehouse. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "First he took energy trading and the NYSE electronic. Now Jeff Sprecher of ICE shares his plans to digitize your mortgage," 2 Sep. 2020

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

1963, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for bar code

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The first known use of bar code was in 1963

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Last Updated

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bar code.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for bar code

bar code


English Language Learners Definition of bar code

: a group of thick and thin lines that is placed on a product so that a computer can get the price of the product and other information about it

bar code


Kids Definition of bar code

: a group of thick and thin lines placed on a product that represents computerized information about the product (as price)

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More from Merriam-Webster on bar code

Nglish: Translation of bar code for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bar code for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bar code

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