bar·​ri·​er ˈber-ē-ər How to pronounce barrier (audio)
: something material that blocks or is intended to block passage
highway barriers
a barrier contraceptive
: a natural formation or structure that prevents or hinders movement or action
geographic barriers to species dissemination
barrier beaches
drugs that cross the placental barrier
barriers or Barriers plural : a medieval war game in which combatants fight on foot with a fence or railing between them
: something immaterial that impedes or separates : obstacle
behavioral barriers
trade barriers

Examples of barrier in a Sentence

Concrete barriers surround the race track to protect spectators. The tree's roots serve as a barrier against soil erosion. The mountain range forms a natural barrier between the two countries. Both leaders are in favor of removing trade barriers. Cultural barriers have made it hard for women to enter many professions. He argues that regulations should not be viewed as barriers to progress. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Failure to complete a degree or certificate program could be an indication of hardship (such as if medical or financial barriers interfered with the borrower’s ability to graduate). Adam S. Minsky, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 In South and Southeast Asia, the primary barrier to Chinese hegemony is a line of less-than-ideal partners running from India to Indonesia. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Later that month, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that Abbott let the Border Patrol remove the razor-wire barriers that prevented agents from reaching the river to help migrants in distress. Ben Brasch, Washington Post, 18 Feb. 2024 Serums like the Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum or the CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum also have nourishing ingredients such as ceramides, peptides, and niacinamide to boost your skin’s moisture levels and help fortify the skin barrier. Audrey Noble, Vogue, 18 Feb. 2024 Comparing themselves with water birds and trees the pair slowly try to break through the barriers in their relationship, pursue their dreams and take things to the next level. Patrick Frater, Variety, 18 Feb. 2024 The barrier was likely constructed about 11,000 years ago to help hunter-gatherers pursue reindeer amid the sparse landscape after the last ice age. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 Once the chromium oxide barrier is breached, corrosion takes hold. Carlton Reid, WIRED, 16 Feb. 2024 Late last year, a federal appeals court sided with the Biden administration, ordering Texas to remove the barrier from the river while the case moved forward. Edgar Sandoval, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'barrier.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English barrere, from Anglo-French, from barre bar

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of barrier was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near barrier

Cite this Entry

“Barrier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


bar·​ri·​er ˈbar-ē-ər How to pronounce barrier (audio)
: something (as a fence, railing, or natural obstacle) that blocks the way
: something not material that keeps apart or makes progress difficult
language barriers

Medical Definition


bar·​ri·​er ˈbar-ē-ər How to pronounce barrier (audio)
: a material object or set of objects that separates, demarcates, or serves as a barricade see blood-brain barrier, placental barrier
: a contraceptive device (such as a condom or cervical cap) that prevents sperm from entering the uterus
often used before another noun
barrier contraception
: a factor that tends to restrict the free movement, mingling, or interbreeding of individuals or populations
behavioral and geographic barriers to hybridization

More from Merriam-Webster on barrier

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