re·​bar·​ba·​tive ri-ˈbär-bə-tiv How to pronounce rebarbative (audio)
rebarbatively adverb

Did you know?

You may be surprised to learn that rebarbative traces back to the Latin word for "beard" - barba - making it a very distant relative of the English word beard. But there is some sense to the connection. After all, beards may not be repellent, but they can be prickly and scratchy! Another descendant of Latin barba is the English word barb, which can refer to a sharp projection (as found on barbed wire) or a biting critical remark, both of which can discourage others from getting too close.

Examples of rebarbative in a Sentence

there are aspects of that writer's personality that any reasonable person would regard as rebarbative, but we're just reading his novels—not marrying him
Recent Examples on the Web Why not place a bet on Tala Madani, whose desultory drawing and wildly rebarbative conceits might have the impact at the Met that artists like Matisse once had in Paris? Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2023 One wonders why a skinny, rebarbative marionette should be getting so much attention. Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, 6 June 2022 But Krugman can also sound like a cross between a bloodthirsty Robespierre and a rebarbative GIF. Sebastian Mallaby, The Atlantic, 5 Feb. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rebarbative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French rébarbatif, from Middle French, from rebarber to be repellent, from re- + barbe beard, from Latin barba — more at beard

First Known Use

1892, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rebarbative was in 1892


Dictionary Entries Near rebarbative

Cite this Entry

“Rebarbative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

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