bar·​ri·​er | \ˈber-ē-ər, ˈba-rē-\

Definition of barrier 

1a : something material that blocks or is intended to block passage highway barriers a barrier contraceptive

b : 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

2 barriers or Barriers plural : a medieval war game in which combatants fight on foot with a fence or railing between them

3 : something immaterial that impedes or separates : obstacle behavioral barriers trade barriers

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Synonyms for barrier


barricade, fence, hedge, wall

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The surface of the ocean is a hard barrier for signals to cross. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Clever New Tech Could Let Subs and Planes Talk Directly," 22 Aug. 2018 Courtesy of Contravans Talk to any aspiring van owner and there are usually two barriers to making the #VanLife dream come true: time and money. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Prefab camper van kits cost $13,500," 26 July 2018 Schumer said Trump believed his nominee would be a barrier for special counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. NBC News, "McConnell: Dem claims on Kavanaugh 'conspiracy theory catnip'," 12 July 2018 Similarly, my husband in the legal system saw people with court fines and fees that are less than $500, but are very significant barriers to people trying to transition out of the justice system. Samantha Melamed,, "Why this couple's wedding registry was devoted to paying off Philly kids' court costs," 10 July 2018 And that means that putting small barriers between them and suicide methods can meaningfully prevent suicides. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year," 15 Nov. 2018 Sometimes there’s beauty—and barriers to entry—in age. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Looking Young and Cool Is Sometimes a Liability," 12 Nov. 2018 The Play Store and bootloader barriers Strictly Chinese smartphones, or phones that come with a Chinese-region build of software, are going to be a problem. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "What you need to know before importing that exotic Chinese Android phone," 9 Nov. 2018 This is why Diversify Dietetics was formed: To establish a community, increase representation in a not so diverse field, provide education, and resources that remove barriers for future dietitians, and, ultimately, to change the face of nutrition. SELF, "8 Influencers Making the Wellness World More Inclusive," 7 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barrier.' 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 barrier

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

History and Etymology for barrier

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

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Statistics for barrier

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barrier

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

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More Definitions for barrier



English Language Learners Definition of barrier

: something (such as a fence or natural obstacle) that prevents or blocks movement from one place to another

: a law, rule, problem, etc., that makes something difficult or impossible

: something that makes it difficult for people to understand each other


bar·​ri·​er | \ˈber-ē-ər \

Kids Definition of barrier

1 : something (as a fence) that blocks the way

2 : something that keeps apart or makes progress difficult a language barrier


bar·​ri·​er | \ˈbar-ē-ər \

Medical Definition of barrier 

1a : a material object or set of objects that separates, demarcates, or serves as a barricade — see blood-brain barrier, placental barrier

b : a contraceptive device (such as a condom or cervical cap) that prevents sperm from entering the uterus often used before another noun barrier contraception

2 : a factor that tends to restrict the free movement, mingling, or interbreeding of individuals or populations behavioral and geographic barriers to hybridization

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More from Merriam-Webster on barrier

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with barrier

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barrier

Spanish Central: Translation of barrier

Nglish: Translation of barrier for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barrier for Arabic Speakers

Comments on barrier

What made you want to look up barrier? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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