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

That’s not to say that cupboard is barren in Seattle; the Huskies have lots of young talent. Max Meyer, SI.com, "College Football Win Totals: Best Bets in the Pac-12," 15 July 2019 Many lots are barren, save for concrete slabs where houses once stood. Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, "Flattened by Hurricane Michael, Florida Town Tries to Stave Off Big Development," 3 Apr. 2019 However, some researchers are concerned that the increased vegetation will affect their ability to find prey, as their hunting grounds are normally more barren. Sydney Combs, National Geographic, "These animals thrive in extreme mountain conditions—here's how," 28 Mar. 2019 It was held in September and early October instead of June’s relatively barren sports calendar, conflicting with high school, college and pro football, in the midst of baseball pennant races. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Women’s soccer’s journey from promise of 1999 to reality of 2019," 11 June 2019 To reach it, trekkers must cross a golden, vast, and barren landscape that is one of the last remote regions on Earth. National Geographic, "Beyond Everest: 9 peaks to summit in a lifetime," 29 May 2019 While Americans tend to associate brown bears with temperate, coniferous forests, there are global populations in places as dry and barren as the Gobi Desert. Brent Crane, Discover Magazine, "Grizzly Bears Might Return to California. Is the State Ready?," 12 Mar. 2019 Even those without standing water are barren mud pits because the ground is too saturated to plant. Tony Briscoe, chicagotribune.com, "Because of historic rains, less than half the normal amount of corn has been planted in Illinois. The next weeks are make or break for farmers.," 7 June 2019 Up a curving path with railroad tracks on their left and the barren slopes of Monte Cristo Rey on their right. Morgan Smith, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: I scouted the U.S.-Mexico border looking for dignity and leadership," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 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

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

23 Jul 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

Comments on barren

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