bar·​ri·​er | \ ˈber-ē-ər How to pronounce barrier (audio) , 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


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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 Border Patrol removes these barriers during the monsoon to prevent flooding and debris buildup and agents monitor the river crossing 24 hours a day. Erin Stone, azcentral, "Crews cut down cottonwood trees at San Pedro River to make way for Trump's border wall," 5 Feb. 2020 If your bale is on bare soil or a weedy patch, put down a few layers of landscape fabric or cardboard to create a barrier so weeds don’t grow up through the straw. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "Straw Bale Gardening Is Easier Than You Think—Here's What to Know," 30 Jan. 2020 Our mission is to remove transportation barriers so all kids can reach their full potential. Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY, "In California: A deadly avalanche in Lake Tahoe; we sue Trump (again)," 17 Jan. 2020 That decision, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said, helps remove barriers for people in the legal system and recognizes that cellphone access is essential to people representing themselves in court. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Pens and pencils were banned in 36th District Court in Detroit — until now," 16 Jan. 2020 These dynamic collaboration tools help remove barriers of space and time. Katie Nielson, Quartz, "The US has a skills gap problem—and it’s ignoring its most obvious solution," 10 Jan. 2020 Yet Trinidadians, Jamaicans, Barbadians, Grenadians, Guyanese, and others continued to emigrate until the British government erected legal barriers in 1971. Dohra Ahmad, The New York Review of Books, "A Lark in West Indian London," 10 Jan. 2020 Some people are probably willing to do all that, and props to them, but even low barriers to recycling discourage a lot of people. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Here's Your New Pretend Toothpaste," 19 Dec. 2019 Booker failed to clear the barrier for tonight’s event. Soraya Chemaly, Glamour, "Kamala Harris Won't Be on Tonight's Debate Stage. No Matter Who You Support, That Should Matter to You," 19 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for barrier

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for barrier

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barrier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for barrier


How to pronounce barrier (audio)

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 How to pronounce barrier (audio) \

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 How to pronounce barrier (audio) \

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 nounbarrier 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barrier

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with barrier

Spanish Central: Translation of barrier

Nglish: Translation of barrier for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barrier for Arabic Speakers

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