bar·​ney ˈbär-nē How to pronounce barney (audio)
plural barneys
British, informal
: an angry argument : altercation, row
You might have a barney with your husband over his inability to find your jokes funny but actually resorting to punching, kicking or lifting a weapon is beyond me.Elaine C. Smith, Sunday Mail, 31 July 2005
She accused him of knocking her front teeth out in a barney, while admitting that more often than not she initiated the punch-ups.David Bennun, The Guardian (London), 17 Sept. 1999
: a boisterous good time
: a small car attached to a cable used to push cars up a slope in a mine

Word History


perhaps from the name Barney

First Known Use

1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of barney was in 1864

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Dictionary Entries Near barney

Cite this Entry

“Barney.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

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