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 organization promotes in-person and telephone support groups, since being a caregiver is often a barrier to getting out of the house alone. Blake Farmer, Washington Post, "Support Circle: Family Caregivers Share Stories And Tips To Ease Alzheimer’s Toll," 11 July 2018 Jonathan Andrade, 26, who was not even born back in 1988, feels Mexico’s violence and corruption is a major barrier for young people and a new approach is needed. Time, "'I Am Here to Salute My President': Mexicans Celebrate Lopez Obrador's Left-Wing Landslide," 2 July 2018 Often times, union officials said, schedule pressure is a barrier to accessing a bathroom and sometimes drivers face discipline for falling behind. Nicholas Rondinone,, "'Let Us Pee': Bus Drivers Call For Better Access To Bathrooms," 28 June 2018 Interface issues shouldn't be the barrier between people and this fantastic form of entertainment. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Hands-on: How Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller lets gamers with disabilities play," 14 June 2018 But despite the proximity, there is a barrier: An overpass atop the Jeffries Freeway. Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press, "Corktown: A community on the verge of change awaits Ford's arrival," 13 June 2018 One of the secrets to its popularity is its low barrier to entry. Alyssa Newcomb And Peter Maguire /, NBC News, "Video game 'Fortnite' is raking in millions and taking over the real world," 12 July 2018 But there are barriers for these young farmers to enter the industry. Katie Park,, "Like your organic food? Pennsylvania's young farmers are growing it," 11 July 2018 Ozone pollution, or ground-level smog, requires more complex readings on temperature, humidity, and gas makeup, which is a barrier to higher-quality and low-cost monitors for all pollutants. Jason Plautz, WIRED, "Cheap, Portable Sensors Are Democratizing Air-Quality Data," 11 July 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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Phrases Related to barrier

crash barrier

language barrier

the sound barrier

Statistics for barrier

Last Updated

7 Oct 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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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).


lying above or upon

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