barren

1 of 2

adjective

bar·​ren ˈber-ən How to pronounce barren (audio)
ˈba-rən
1
: not reproducing: such as
a
: incapable of producing offspring
used especially of females or matings
barren 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 of
barren of excitement
4
: lacking interest or charm
a barren routine
5
: lacking inspiration or ideas
a barren mind
barrenly adverb
barrenness
ˈber-ə(n)-nəs How to pronounce barren (audio)
ˈba-rə(n)-
noun

barren

2 of 2

noun

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
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
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Research done by Pure Earth shows that the barren, sandy soil emits mercury. Simeon Tegel, NPR, 2 Apr. 2024 The pharmaceutical factories that sit in gray, barren business parks may soon become a little more extraterrestrial. Grace Browne, WIRED, 27 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for barren 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'barren.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

Noun

noun derivative of barren entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near barren

Cite this Entry

“Barren.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/barren. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

barren

1 of 2 adjective
bar·​ren ˈbar-ən How to pronounce barren (audio)
1
a
: not able to produce offspring
used especially of females
b
: usually failing to fruit
barren apple trees
2
a
: producing inferior or little to no vegetation
barren soils
b
: not producing results or gain
a barren plan
barrenly adverb
barrenness noun

barren

2 of 2 noun
: a tract of barren land

Medical Definition

barren

adjective
bar·​ren ˈbar-ən How to pronounce barren (audio)
: incapable of producing offspring
used especially of females or matings
barrenness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on barren

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