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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Egypt, the birthplace of Christian monasticism, is home to some of the world's most ancient monasteries, nestled in the country's barren desert and which have drawn monks for centuries to lead solitary ascetic lives. Fox News, "Egypt prosecutors order ex-monk detained over abbot death," 11 Aug. 2018 Because of a recent drought, vast patches of fields are barren and brown. Sui-lee Wee, New York Times, "In a Chinese Village, Elderly Farmers Are Now Yogis," 24 June 2018 Just then, Oyama-san stops the car and points up to a barren tree. Adam H. Graham, Condé Nast Traveler, "Slow Skiing in Japan's Deep North," 11 Oct. 2018 The field was barren, pest-ridden, and lacked any formal landscaping. Brittany Martin, Los Angeles Magazine, "The History of Those Beautiful Jacaranda Trees in Bloom Around L.A.," 15 May 2018 In Disguised Bandit, originally taken around 1915, a group of uniformed men—presumably soldiers—stand under a barren tree in what looks to be high desert, staring at the camera seemingly without remorse. Alicia Ault, Smithsonian, "Two Artists in Search of Missing History," 5 Apr. 2018 A month earlier Hagan had shared with the team a more traditional parable, that of the barren fig tree from the gospel of Luke. Dan Greene, SI.com, "Villanova's Dominance Proves the Power of a Well-Built Program," 3 Apr. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Though the islands are mostly barren, populated by only about 10,000 people, the adjacent waters contain plentiful fishing stocks, and possible deposits of oil and gas. Anatoly Kurmanaev, WSJ, "Japan, Russia See Way Out of 70-Year Squabble," 12 Sep. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about barren

Statistics for barren

Last Updated

8 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barren

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up barren? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a complex dispute or argument

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!