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 To be clear, this isn't a barren region on Neptune. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Astronomers glimpse a planetary core 730 light-years away," 1 July 2020 Outside at daybreak, a post-apocalyptic barren parking lot. Matt Wake |, al, "Alabama shopping mall subject of new documentary film," 28 June 2020 With the lower elevations that is the Klamath Mountains, the landscapes give rise to more sediment, trees and vegetation and terrestrial activity than the barren, alpine landscapes of the High Sierra. Tom Stienstra,, "Looking for summer solitude? Marble Mountain is the perfect retreat," 27 June 2020 Within three years, between half a million and 800,000 people—nearly a quarter of Somaliland’s population—had moved off this barren ground. National Geographic, "For these women, an age-old way of life is ending in the Horn of Africa," 19 June 2020 But, for the most part, the server room is devoid of life, its processors left to sift through a deluge of data for signs of particles that have traveled across the universe and arrived at the barren Antarctic ice sheet. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "The Hunt Is On for Elusive Ghost Particles in Antarctica," 12 June 2020 But, on the ground, plantations of trees crammed together are often eerily barren, devoid of lush vegetation and wildlife. Tony Schick, ProPublica, "Big Money Bought the Forests. Small Logging Communities Are Paying the Price.," 11 June 2020 But, on the ground, plantations of trees crammed together are often eerily barren, devoid of lush vegetation and wildlife. The Oregonian -, "Big money bought the forests. Small timber communities are paying the price," 11 June 2020 The farmer stands in front of his barren field, dotted with stunted cumin plants. Popular Science, "An unprecedented locust swarm is creating unlikely allies," 7 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That is clearly not true; and besides, no poet has ever made the barren feel so unusual—and so vital. Matthew Bevis, Harper's Magazine, "Faintly Risible, Obscurely Resonant," 23 June 2020 The town common looked terrible—scraggly and barren. Martha Ackmann, The Atlantic, "The Encounter That Revealed a Different Side of Emily Dickinson," 23 June 2020 The streets will surely be only more barren this summer. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Open Up the Streets," 10 May 2020 The coronavirus pandemic means team facilities are barren of players and coaches. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "Deadlines have prompted the Cowboys to get some of their biggest deals done. Dak Prescott’s will be no different," 18 May 2020 Now June and July are increasingly looking barren of sports. Victor Mather, New York Times, "World Chess Moves Online. But Check, Don’t Cheat, Mate.," 23 Apr. 2020 But when the predators that keep their numbers in check disappear, the population booms and can quickly consume a kelp forest, creating what is called an urchin barren. Maurice Roper, National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 30 Apr. 2020 But True History of the Kelly Gang is undoubtedly Kurzel’s most ambitious undertaking yet, from a visual standpoint as well as a narrative one. Haunting aerial shots present the film’s setting as a barren, almost alien landscape. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ director, stars on their hypnotic outlaw saga," 23 Apr. 2020 After an appropriately post-apocalyptic dystopian opening perfectly fitting for our new reality, the new cast treks their way through a barren, freezing forest to their first challenge that’s happening immediately. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "The Challenge: Total Madness premiere recap: An unholy alliance more than a decade in the making," 2 Apr. 2020

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 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barren.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 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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