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

Worldwide barley is used for all sorts of purposes, mostly feeding livestock. Seth Borenstein, The Seattle Times, "Global warming to leave us crying in our costlier beer," 17 Oct. 2018 BETA GLUCANS Long-chain sugar molecules found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and grains, such as oats and barley. Allure, "The Skin-Care Glossary: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything You Need to Know," 17 Aug. 2018 In addition to the jail food—meals of rice and barley plus side dishes—detainees who haven’t been convicted are allowed to receive canned food or snacks brought by visitors. Megumi Fujikawa, WSJ, "Can Ghosn Be Detained Indefinitely? Yes, Unless He Confesses," 10 Dec. 2018 Barley malt syrup Made from sprouted (aka malted) barley, this syrup imparts a very strong nutty, molasses-like flavor to baked goods. Laura Sant, Good Housekeeping, "How To Bake With 12 Healthy Sugar Substitutes," 1 May 2017 Return beef to pot along with squash, carrots, beef stock, and barley. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Instant Pot Beef and Squash Stew," 9 Jan. 2019 The farmers grow rapeseed, flaxseed, barley and wheat there now. Greg Bishop,, "The Valley of Darkness," 13 Apr. 2018 According to a paper published in 2016 in the journal PNAS, Iron Gates hunter-gatherers were eating domesticated wheat and barley as early as 8,600 years ago, more than 400 years before the Anatolian farmers arrived. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 The smell of peat from barley stored here in Victorian times still lingered in the air. Liza Weisstuch, New York Times, "The Whisky Chronicles," 23 Apr. 2018

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

Statistics for barley

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barley

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for barley



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).


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

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!