bar·​ren | \ ˈber-ən How to pronounce barren (audio) , ˈba-rən \

Definition of barren

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not reproducing: such as
a : incapable of producing offspring used especially of females or matingsbarren women
b : not yet or not recently pregnant
c of plants : habitually failing to fruit barren apple trees
2 : not productive: such as
a : producing little or no vegetation : desolate barren deserts
b : producing inferior crops barren soil
c : unproductive of results or gain : fruitless a barren scheme
3 : devoid, lacking used with ofbarren of excitement
4 : lacking interest or charm a barren routine
5 : lacking inspiration or ideas a barren mind



Definition of barren (Entry 2 of 2)

1 barrens plural, geography : an extent of usually level land having an inferior growth of trees or little vegetation
2 : a tract of barren land

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Other Words from barren


barrenly adverb
barrenness \ ˈber-​ə(n)-​nəs How to pronounce barrenness (audio) , ˈba-​rə(n)-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for barren


bare, naked, nude, bald, barren mean deprived of naturally or conventionally appropriate covering. bare implies the removal of what is additional, superfluous, ornamental, or dispensable. an apartment with bare walls naked suggests absence of protective or ornamental covering but may imply a state of nature, of destitution, or of defenselessness. poor half-naked children nude applies especially to the unclothed human figure. a nude model posing for art students bald implies actual or seeming absence of natural covering and may suggest a conspicuous bareness. a bald mountain peak barren often suggests aridity or impoverishment or sterility. barren plains

Examples of barren in a Sentence

Adjective Few creatures can thrive on these barren mountaintops. The book was good, but I found the barren lives of the characters depressing. Noun lived out in the barrens where it was impossible to grow anything
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective From 1929 to 1934, crop yields across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri plunged by 60%, leaving farmers destitute and exposing the now-barren topsoil to dry winds and soaring temperatures. Meridith Kohut, ProPublica, "Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration," 15 Sep. 2020 While the Astros were considered to have a barren farm system a decade ago, their new front office did inherit Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel and George Springer — a future Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award winner and World Series M.V.P. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "The Orioles Looked Done. Now They’re Threatening the Yankees’ Playoff Plans.," 11 Sep. 2020 Years after mining, the earth remains barren and lifeless. Washington Post, "In the Amazon, the coronavirus fuels an illegal gold rush — and an environmental crisis," 4 Sep. 2020 Much of the land there is bare, though not quite barren. oregonlive, "How to vacation during the pandemic: 4 day trips to 4 ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest," 30 Aug. 2020 The company is also tweaking the color palette for a more vibrant map—ocean blues are bluer, forest greens are greener, and the map now even shows snowy mountain peaks in white and barren land in brown. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google Maps gets “more detailed, colorful map”," 19 Aug. 2020 Those who survived were forced to move to Crow Creek, a barren reservation in South Dakota, the following spring. Smithsonian Magazine, "How 19th-Century Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous Racism Reverberates Today," 1 Sep. 2020 In the 2016-17 season Atkinson inherited a barren Nets roster feeling the aftereffects of shipping away three first-round draft picks to Boston for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Jamal Collier,, "5 coaching candidates the Bulls are expected to pursue to replace Jim Boylen," 15 Aug. 2020 Hawthorne and the volunteers worked late into the night Monday as a fleet of trucks carrying thousands of boxes descended on a barren Dallas parking lot. Ashley Killough, CNN, "Food bank doles out tons of food as Texans, like many Americans, fight to feed themselves," 11 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Even the secondary, barren of talent and experience two years ago, is significantly beefed up. oregonlive, "Oregon State junior safety David Morris says postponing the 2020 Pac-12 season ‘was the right thing to do’," 21 Aug. 2020 But now, the town officials and volunteers hope to convert the barren and empty parking lot surrounding the building into a thriving community gathering place. Shreeya Agarwal,, "A historic bank building in Mount Airy has been vacant for decades. Now volunteers are giving the property a makeover.," 7 Aug. 2020 That is clearly not true; and besides, no poet has ever made the barren feel so unusual—and so vital. Matthew Bevis, Harper's Magazine, "Faintly Risible, Obscurely Resonant," 23 June 2020 The town common looked terrible—scraggly and barren. Martha Ackmann, The Atlantic, "The Encounter That Revealed a Different Side of Emily Dickinson," 23 June 2020 The streets will surely be only more barren this summer. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Open Up the Streets," 10 May 2020 The coronavirus pandemic means team facilities are barren of players and coaches. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "Deadlines have prompted the Cowboys to get some of their biggest deals done. Dak Prescott’s will be no different," 18 May 2020 Now June and July are increasingly looking barren of sports. Victor Mather, New York Times, "World Chess Moves Online. But Check, Don’t Cheat, Mate.," 23 Apr. 2020 But when the predators that keep their numbers in check disappear, the population booms and can quickly consume a kelp forest, creating what is called an urchin barren. Maurice Roper, National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 30 Apr. 2020

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for barren


Middle English bareine, from Anglo-French barain, perhaps of Celtic origin; akin to Middle Welsh brynar fallow land


noun derivative of barren entry 1

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Time Traveler for barren

Time Traveler

The first known use of barren was in the 13th century

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Statistics for barren

Last Updated

18 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barren.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for barren


How to pronounce barren (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of barren

: having very few plants : not suitable for plants
: not producing fruit or not able to produce fruit
old-fashioned, of a woman or female animal : not able to produce children or offspring


bar·​ren | \ ˈber-ən How to pronounce barren (audio) \

Kids Definition of barren

1 : unable to produce seed, fruit, or young barren plants
2 : growing only poor or few plants barren soil


bar·​ren | \ ˈbar-ən How to pronounce barren (audio) \

Medical Definition of barren

: incapable of producing offspring used especially of females or matings

Other Words from barren

barrenness \ -​ən-​nəs How to pronounce barrenness (audio) \ noun

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