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 After four failed trips to local grocery stores with barren shelves from panic buying, the nurse took a 40-minute drive to a specialty store to ensure Cupid had the right dinner. Lauren Lee, CNN, "Not just another patient: A nurse cared for a blind veteran and his guide dog while they were locked down in the hospital," 13 May 2020 In Russia, the performing arts — and ballet in particular — are so entwined in the national identity that theaters are unaccustomed to empty seats, let alone barren buildings. Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post, "Bolshoi in the kitchen: Russian ballet is also working from home during lockdown," 25 Apr. 2020 The Sox’s fifth starter is as barren as their reservoir of goodwill. Globe Staff,, "For a change, Red Sox bullpen is the pitching building block," 24 Feb. 2020 Some grocery stores are now imposing limits on meat purchases to prevent barren refrigerator displays. Nathaniel Meyersohn And Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Kroger is limiting ground beef and pork purchases in some stores," 1 May 2020 Finally, a sporting event for fans to get excited about amid the barren sports television landscape that has been wiped out due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. oregonlive, "UFC 249 scheduled for May 9: Fight card, TV schedule, start time, PPV cost, how to watch live on ESPN Plus," 29 Apr. 2020 Looking around at the barren floodplain during a visit in early March, Jennifer Pitt picked up a clamshell from the sandy, salt-crusted soil and held it in her hand. Ian James,, "How a trickle of water is breathing life into the parched Colorado River Delta," 19 Apr. 2020 In Rome, Pope Francis celebrated a surreal Easter mass in a barren St. Peter's Basilica. Sarah Brookbank,, "Coronavirus in Ohio, Kentucky: Churches, stimulus checks, US cases," 13 Apr. 2020 Cathy Sloss Jones looked out over this barren landscape and saw the potential for something wonderful to grow there. Cary Estes, al, "How Pepper Place grew a nationally acclaimed farmers market," 13 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Sandy stretches of beach lay barren, even on sunny days. Los Angeles Times, "As coronavirus spreads, Los Angeles County scores an A in social distancing; other counties lag," 31 Mar. 2020 The vast forecourt is barricaded, barren of its Christmas tree., "PARIS — The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile that there’s a “50 percent chance” the structure might not be saved, because scaffolding installed before this year’s fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument.," 26 Dec. 2019 But as people gear up for long-haul self-isolation to stop the spread of Covid-19, some have noticed the freezer section of the store has been left barren. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "Fresh produce will abandon you in quarantine. Here’s how to keep it and waste less," 20 Mar. 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

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barren.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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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