bar·​ley | \ ˈbär-lē How to pronounce barley (audio) \

Definition of barley

: a cereal grass (genus Hordeum and especially H. vulgare) having the flowers in dense spikes with long awns and three spikelets at each joint of the rachis also : its seed used especially in malt beverages, breakfast foods, and stock feeds

Examples of barley in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Reduce heat to low, cover and let the barley simmer until tender, 50-60 minutes. Paul Stephen,, "Recipe: Black Bean Stew with Pearl Barley," 15 Apr. 2020 This recipe can be served with rice instead of barley if desired. Paul Stephen,, "Recipe: Black Bean Stew with Pearl Barley," 15 Apr. 2020 And, Nourish columnist Ellie Krieger suggests a grain bowl – with farro, barley, freekeh… -- that gets a bright blast of spring from your favorite vegetables and herbs. The Washington Post, "Free Range on Food: A week's worth of beans, box grater pastas, using up your herb stems, this week's recipes and more!," 8 Apr. 2020 The estate covers about twenty-five thousand acres and includes a nature reserve, which is visited by almost a million people a year, and a farming business that grows potatoes, sugar beets, and barley, for beer. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Can Farming Make Space for Nature?," 10 Feb. 2020 Ingredients such as buckwheat, chestnuts, rice, sorghum and lentils take the place of the traditional malted barley, wheat, rye or even oats, which have a protein that can bother some celiac disease sufferers. Andre Meunier, oregonlive, "A pioneer in gluten-free beers, Ground Breaker draws customers -- and awards: Portland Breweries Series," 4 Dec. 2019 No gods of silver, no gods of gold — still less gods made of such flimsy stuff as barley, rain, and flax, or something as petty and transitory as mere political power. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "This Pilgrim Republic," 28 Nov. 2019 Jo Malone London Poppy & Barley is peppered with cotton-soft barley, black currant and floral poppies to interpret an English meadow; $140, at Jo Malone, Beverly Hills or at Meg Hemphill, The Hollywood Reporter, "6 Woodsy Scents for All Genders," 30 Oct. 2019 Both farro, especially the quick-cooking type, and barley would be terrific in recipes like minestrone soup. Catherine Lo, Good Housekeeping, "The 8 Best Pasta Substitutes That Won't Leave You Hungry," 27 Mar. 2020

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for barley

Middle English barly, from Old English bærlic of barley; akin to Old English bere barley, Latin far spelt

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about barley

Time Traveler for barley

Time Traveler

The first known use of barley was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for barley

Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barley.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for barley


How to pronounce barley (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of barley

: a kind of grain used for food and to make beer and whiskey also : the plant on which this grain grows


bar·​ley | \ ˈbär-lē How to pronounce barley (audio) \

Kids Definition of barley

: a cereal grass grown for its grain which is used mostly to feed farm animals or make malt


bar·​ley | \ ˈbär-lē How to pronounce barley (audio) \

Medical Definition of barley

: a cereal grass (genus Hordeum, especially H. vulgare) having the flowers in dense spikes with long awns also : its seed used in malt beverages and in breakfast foods and stock feeds

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on barley

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with barley

Spanish Central: Translation of barley

Nglish: Translation of barley for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barley for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about barley

Comments on barley

What made you want to look up barley? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!