barren

adjective
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 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

barren

noun

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

Adjective

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

Choose the Right Synonym for barren

Adjective

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

The otters and trout vanished from the creek; deer fled the barren fields. Sarah Kaplan, chicagotribune.com, "Travel science: Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania," 11 Sep. 2019 After leaving Raxruhá, after crossing Mexico with a coyote, after reaching at midnight that barren New Mexico border, a man and his daughter looked to Antelope Wells for asylum and were arrested. Kimiko Hahn, The New Yorker, "After Being Asked if I Write the “Occasional Poem”," 9 Sep. 2019 Just steps away from the dog in the garage, a second barked and growled through the open window of a barren second floor room next door to the Strauther home. Kat Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Chained and neglected: Detroit's dog problem persists despite child deaths," 28 Aug. 2019 Spencer, from Brooklyn, creates delicately choreographed videos of black women moving ritualistically in ambiguous spaces — deserted warehouses, barren fields, and milky pools. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "At Brandeis, three women artists rise above devastating forces worldwide," 21 Aug. 2019 Waiting for Indy's first Although Indianapolis artists have yet to conquer the Billboard charts, the city's hip-hop history isn't barren. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "He's taking the stairs, not the elevator, but Indianapolis rapper Trajik just keeps rising," 22 Aug. 2019 Now is the perfect time to get your shopping done, before the store lines stretch a mile long, the aisles become barren, and everything is sold out online. Tainaya Nash, House Beautiful, "The Wait Is Over—Michael’s Has Finally Released Its Halloween Collection," 31 July 2019 Otherwise, the landscape seems barren and nearly sapped of color. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian, "This Artist Imagines How Nature Evolves Following an Environmental Apocalypse," 19 July 2019 For centuries, humans believed that much of it was barren of life. Adam Minter, Twin Cities, "Adam Minter: Big Tech needs to save the deep seas," 11 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But, this barren and hostile landscape is one of the most important locations in the world for studying when and how early humans began walking upright, using tools and adapting to their changing environments. Erin Dimaggio, Smithsonian, "How Do Scientists Date Fossils?," 13 June 2019 That caused the workers to kill the barren queens and begin to raise new royalty, a ruthless reaction the bees evolved long ago to ensure the future of their hives. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Breeders toughen up bees to resist deadly mites," 25 July 2019 Facing the dull barren, writers find refuge in the evergreen relief of lists—awards, rankings, and predictions. Jacob Feldman, SI.com, "The 2019 Sports On-Air All-Stars," 11 July 2019 Most of the mountain is a barren, red landscape of volcanic rock and dust, with thin, dry air, intense sunlight and winds that will blow your tent down the mountain. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "If Algae Clings to Snow on This Volcano, Can It Grow on Other Desolate Worlds?," 15 July 2019 Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times Hang a right a few miles past the Dirty Devil River, bump down Cow Dung Road, and the barren, red landscape beyond morphs from mere desert into something, well, otherworldly. David Kelly, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Life on Mars gets a test run in the Utah desert," 23 June 2019 Open: Year round Reservations: First come, first served only Cost: $15 per night No Hookups White Tank Campground is unlike any other on this list thanks to the barren desert found in Joshua Tree. Washington Post, "The country’s eight most beautiful campgrounds," 12 July 2019 Hang a right a few miles past the Dirty Devil River, bump down Cow Dung Road, and the barren, red landscape beyond morphs from mere desert into something, well, otherworldly. David Kelly, latimes.com, "Life on Mars gets a test run in the Utah desert," 23 June 2019 Pay no mind to the roster, barren for the moment aside from James and Kyle Kuzma. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "After Year of Turmoil, Lakers Look Ready to Contend," 15 June 2019

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

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for barren

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

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Statistics for barren

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barren

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

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More Definitions for barren

barren

adjective

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

barren

adjective
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

barren

adjective
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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More from Merriam-Webster on barren

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with barren

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barren

Spanish Central: Translation of barren

Nglish: Translation of barren for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barren for Arabic Speakers

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