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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for barrier


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 And as the barrier-breaking part of the partnership, Ms. Harris has assumed the burden of living up to the expectations of voters, especially people of color, who helped put Mr. Biden in the Oval Office. New York Times, "Biden Wants Harris to Have a Major Role. What It Is Hasn’t Been Defined.," 6 Feb. 2021 Two weeks after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman to be vice president , her barrier-breaking career has been memorialized in a portrait that depicts her face emerging from the cracks in a massive sheet of glass. Darlene Superville, Chron, "Kamala Harris's historic election celebrated in cracked glass portrait," 4 Feb. 2021 More than just recognizing Ossoff’s barrier-breaking win, his choice of a Hebrew Bible speaks to the crucial bounds between the Jewish and Black communities in Atlanta that made the moment possible. Washington Post, "At his swearing-in, Jon Ossoff used a Hebrew Bible from an MLK ally whose synagogue was bombed by white supremacists," 21 Jan. 2021 Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath office in a barrier-breaking ceremony Wednesday, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the office. Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY, "Vice President Kamala Harris steps into history as first woman of color to hold the office," 21 Jan. 2021 Technology challenges, such as inadequate equipment and connectivity problems, were the most common barrier to widespread telework. David Jacobs, Washington Examiner, "Audit report says Louisiana government struggled to accommodate remote work," 2 Feb. 2021 The desire to avoid isolation is the biggest barrier to requesting a test and only 17% of people with symptoms are coming forward for testing, according to the Jan. 19 policy paper. Alex Morales, Fortune, "U.K. weighs paying people to self isolate as COVID-19 death toll hits new records," 22 Jan. 2021 Your phone’s lock screen is the first barrier against unauthorized access. David Nield, Popular Science, "Here’s your checklist for maximum smartphone security," 21 Jan. 2021 The problem was two-fold: Payers balked at the treatments’ $14,000-a-year list prices, and the prospect of bimonthly injections proved to be a barrier in the minds of many patients and physicians. Damian Garde, STAT, "What if a pill could lower cholesterol like pricey injectables? Esperion intends to find out," 13 Jan. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about barrier

Time Traveler for barrier

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for barrier

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Barrier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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 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 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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