noun bar·ri·er \ ˈber-ē-ər , ˈba-rē- \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of barrier

1 a : 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

Examples of barrier in a Sentence

  1. Concrete barriers surround the race track to protect spectators.

  2. The tree's roots serve as a barrier against soil erosion.

  3. The mountain range forms a natural barrier between the two countries.

  4. Both leaders are in favor of removing trade barriers.

  5. Cultural barriers have made it hard for women to enter many professions.

  6. He argues that regulations should not be viewed as barriers to progress.

Recent Examples of barrier from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of barrier

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

BARRIER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of barrier for English Language Learners

  • : 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

BARRIER Defined for Kids


noun bar·ri·er \ ˈber-ē-ər \

Definition of barrier for Students

1 : something (as a fence) that blocks the way
2 : something that keeps apart or makes progress difficult
  • a language barrier

Medical Dictionary


noun bar·ri·er \ ˈbar-ē-ər \

medical Definition of barrier

1 a : 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

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


having an air of easy unconcern

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens-painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!