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

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 The Mariners’ farm system is among the most barren in MLB. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "Mariners and Jerry Dipoto seem stuck with this starting rotation after lack of options at the trade deadline," 20 Aug. 2018 Well, this lush free-agent landscape is suddenly looking a little more barren. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "MLB's great free agent class of 2018 limping toward finish line," 11 June 2018 With more miles of hiking trails than roads, the island is filled with barren lava fields, undulating sand dunes, and dense subtropical forests. Benjamin Kemper, Condé Nast Traveler, "Spain’s Secret Islands," 14 Feb. 2018 And the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a barren region that Democrats treated like an environmental treasure, was opened for oil and gas drilling. Fred Barnes, WSJ, "The Downside of Anti-Trump Rage," 22 Jan. 2019 In 1991, Kakuma was just a small town in a barren part of Kenya. Sarah Butrymowicz, Marie Claire, "Refugee Girls Want to Change the World. Will We Let Them?," 7 Jan. 2019 The secret to life in this barren place are the sand rivers. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 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.

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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

11 Jun 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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