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 Some new safety protocols include placing additional barriers between workstations where social distancing is not possible. USA TODAY, "The Dude distances, LA beaches reopen, lottery soars: News from around our 50 states," 14 May 2020 Some owners are planning to install plexiglass barriers between booths, while others are turning to paper menus and disposable cutlery. David Yaffe-bellany, New York Times, "McDonald’s Details What Dining In Will Look Like," 14 May 2020 Parties of 10 may sit together, with tables six feet apart, or with physical barriers between. Polly Campbell,, "These are the restaurants and bars opening for outdoor seating Friday," 13 May 2020 Tesla has a plan to maintain worker safety, including the wearing of gloves and masks, installing barriers between workers and maintaining social distancing. Tom Krisher, Anchorage Daily News, "Elon Musk defies California county’s virus stay-home orders by reopening Tesla factory," 12 May 2020 In the fine-dining sector, Hill predicts that private dining rooms may see a resurgence, and decor (such as plants and art) may increase to act as barriers between tables and people. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, "What to Expect When Restaurants Reopen—and How to Stay Safe If You Dine Out," 12 May 2020 Tesla has a plan to maintain worker safety, including the wearing of gloves and masks, installing barriers between workers and maintaining social distancing. Washington Post, "Elon Musk becomes champion of defying virus stay-home orders," 12 May 2020 In offices, desks shouldn’t be close together, barriers between desks are helpful, close interactions should be kept to a minimum, and having your own office is safer. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "A Guide to Staying Safe as States Reopen," 7 May 2020 Maintaining an invisible six-foot barrier between yourself and others. James Ross Gardner, The New Yorker, "The End of the Beginning: Seattle Braces for the Next Phase of the Coronavirus Fight," 4 May 2020

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

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barrier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 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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