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 matingsbarren 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 ofbarren of excitement
4 : lacking interest or charm a barren routine
5 : lacking inspiration or ideas a barren mind



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


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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In a video captures on Twitter Monday, dozens of kangaroos are seen jumping up a large, barren hill to get away from the brushfire. Georgia Slater,, "Mob of Kangaroos Rush to Escape Fires Raging in Southern Australia," 31 Dec. 2019 That said, the deals landscape isn't totally barren for those who would rather shop before the holiday rush. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Dealmaster: Get discounts on board games, AirPods Pro, Xbox Game Pass, and more," 14 Nov. 2019 Such prime real estate would seem to have had better uses, but Alcatraz is barren, windswept and without a natural source of fresh water. Ben Crair, Smithsonian, "Alcatraz’s Captivating Hold on History," 23 Oct. 2019 To welcome Season 5, Epic Games placed real-life versions of fan-favorite items and locations across the world, like this Durrr Burger suddenly appearing in the middle of a barren California desert. Gene Park, Washington Post, "The entire Fortnite ecosystem has been sucked into a virtual black hole, and the game is down," 13 Oct. 2019 There is ample evidence that Mars, which was once considered a barren desert, was wet and warm in the past, and planetary scientists talk with some urgency about sending spacecraft to survey the oceans of the moons Europa, Titan, and Enceladus. Adam Mann, The New Yorker, "Intelligent Ways to Search for Extraterrestrials," 3 Oct. 2019 Jutting out of the vast, barren Sonoran Desert and reachable only by car, Arcosanti's domes and curved structures look like something imagined up by a science fiction writer. Fox News, "This unfinished Arizona 'city of the future' has a problem," 7 June 2019 Today, the site lies in barren desert, with scorching summer temperatures and less than half an inch of rainfall each year. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, "The World Is Our Niche," 3 June 2019 Other spiky, totally barren branches probe a small red island and poke into the hillside, like a mosquito piercing the skin of a host to extract sustenance. Christopher Knight,, "Natural landscapes turned noxious in photography on view at Blum & Poe," 22 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Both Alison and Cole were referenced throughout Season 5, which jumped years ahead to a bleak future: climate change had eroded the coastline, leaving Montauk –– the nucleus of Noah and Alison’s affair and its ripple effects –– barren and deserted. Washington Post, "‘The Affair’ took a messy, winding road to a satisfying and hopeful ending," 4 Nov. 2019 Off Hokkaido, Japan, barrens have persisted for 80 years and counting. Smithsonian, "Can Eating Sea Urchins Help Revive Kelp Forests?," 21 Sep. 2019 Once one of the football calendar's headline fixtures, both sides had fallen away somewhat in recent seasons - Villa falling out of the Premier League while the Reds embarked on a long run barren of significant silverware., "Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 8 Key Facts and Stats to Impress Your Mates Ahead of Premier League Clash," 2 Nov. 2019 Barefoot toddlers play with stray dogs and crowing roosters near a barren well. NBC News, "Made in Cambodia: How women in poverty are supplying America's market for hair," 21 Sep. 2019 Though a safer, paved bypass of Death Road was recently completed, mountain bikers and drivers still dare the one-lane route through the pass of La Cumbre on a barren, 15,255-foot ridge. National Geographic, "Here are 10 of the world’s most spectacular road trips," 13 Sep. 2019 These edible gemstones of the natural landscape have been sought after as long as man and animal have been combing woods, shorelines, meadows, pine barrens, swamps and mountainsides for food. Rebecca Powers, Washington Post, "On your next summer vacation, look for berried treasure," 13 Aug. 2019 Police and about 30 firefighters were at the scene after the blaze began to spread under PG&E’s Jefferson-Martin power lines, which traverse a mountain mostly barren of trees. Alejandro Serrano,, "San Bruno Mountain fire 50% contained, evacuation advisory lifted," 10 Oct. 2019 New hair to be grown from a person’s own cells through stem cell technology at Stemson Therapeutics With a multi-million dollar investment, San Diego startup Stemson Therapeutics aims to grow crops of hair on barren scalps. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Baldness cure on the way? San Diego startup aims to make new hair from stem cells," 27 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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for barren


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


noun derivative of barren entry 1

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Time Traveler for barren

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for barren

Last Updated

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barren.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for barren


How to pronounce barren (audio)

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


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


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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barren

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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