barren

adjective
bar·​ren | \ˈber-ən, 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, 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

LIC Market is perfect for a weekday sandwich or salad: This section of Long Island City can feel shadowy and barren, backdropped by the behemoth Citibank building. Ali Francis, Vogue, "7 Long Island City Restaurants You Should Try Before, Well, Amazon," 20 Nov. 2018 The moon is a dry and barren place, utterly devoid of life. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Life May Have Once Existed on the Moon," 24 July 2018 The pump, according to anonymous environmentalists cited in The Times, could also affect the Colorado River Delta, a mostly barren patch of land that has seen some revitalization in recent years. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Hoover Dam Changed America—And It Might Do It Again," 27 July 2018 The most uncivilised and barren modern habit is to negotiate a present truce among family and friends for Christmas, or to stipulate nothing costing more than a tenner. A.a. Gill, A-LIST, "Fraught, But It Counts," 4 July 2018 The Otay Crossings Commerce Park, in the works since 2007, is one of the largest industrial developments in San Diego County in years, costing $50 million to $60 million to develop the barren site. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Industrial park breaks ground near U.S.-Mexico border," 26 Mar. 2018 The leaves had not yet slipped into their colorful fall suits, but my hair had turned into a barren silvery forest. Si Liberman, San Antonio Express-News, "A sentimental journey to Montreal and Quebec City," 28 June 2018 At the center of The Can of Anido is Maran (Xie Jia-hui), an old aboriginal farmer who spends his days silently cultivating his ailing crops and feeding himself with pintsized yam in his barren, rickety hut. Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Ten Years Taiwan': Film Review," 13 July 2018 His team cultivates fields of grass on this desert land, carves it into sheets, rolls them up like rugs, and sends them out to beautify otherwise barren areas. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "The 2022 World Cup Plants Some Trees and Prepares to Step Into the Spotlight," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Welcome to the Namib Desert, where the roads are long and straight, the landscape barren for miles in every direction, and the sun blazing hot. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 30 Most Romantic Adventures," 8 Feb. 2018 Because of her efforts, barren and eroded hills on the ranch are now covered in groves of olive, acacia, and leleshwa trees. Allyn Stewart, Town & Country, "How Kuki Gallmann Became One of Kenya's Great Protectors," 24 Apr. 2017 The road is a little barren, but a hotel is being built and a large billboard featuring Matic was erected in time for the World Cup. James Montague, New York Times, "Leading Serbia at World Cup, Nemanja Matic Has One Foot Rooted at Home," 22 June 2018 Gardeners who don’t want new plants from seed or the stalks that are barren can simply cut them back to within the cluster of foliage. Tom Maccubbin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Prune blueberry bushes after fruiting," 23 June 2018 Areas most at risk of southern pine beetle infestation are pitch pine barrens, which are scattered around the Northeast including Long Island and Albany in New York and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Washington Post, "Pine-killing southern beetle may be more deadly in North," 10 June 2018 The area became known as the pine barrens, a large wild area eventually preserved through the Pinelands National Reserve in 1978. Frank Kummer, Philly.com, "These Pinelands explorers may be paddling their kayaks through your next glass of water," 20 Apr. 2018 The sanctuary consists of 1,700 acres of open water, tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the Patuxent River. Janene Holzberg, baltimoresun.com, "Jug Bay set to unveil trails, Nature Discovery Place at new Waysons Corner preserve," 4 July 2018 New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has cut 18,000 trees in Long Island’s central pine barrens since an infestation was found there four years ago. Washington Post, "Pine-killing southern beetle may be more deadly in North," 10 June 2018

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 Celt origin; akin to Middle Welsh brynar fallow land

Noun

noun derivative of barren entry 1

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Statistics for barren

Last Updated

26 Nov 2018

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

of a woman or female animal : not able to produce children or offspring

barren

adjective
bar·​ren | \ˈber-ən \

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 \

Medical Definition of barren 

: incapable of producing offspring used especially of females or matings

Other Words from barren

barrenness \-​ən-​nəs \ 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

Comments on barren

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