Synonyms & Antonyms of barren

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 producing inferior or only a small amount of vegetation
  • if tobacco fields aren't allowed to lie idle once every few years, they will become barren

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2 not able to produce fruit or offspring
  • the pear tree appears to be barren

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4 utterly lacking in something needed, wanted, or expected
  • their proposal for revitalizing the downtown business district is utterly barren of useful ideas

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Synonyms of barren (Entry 2 of 2)

land that is uninhabited or not fit for crops
  • lived out in the barrens where it was impossible to grow anything

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Frequently Asked Questions About barren

How does the adjective barren differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of barren are bald, bare, naked, and nude. While all these words mean "deprived of naturally or conventionally appropriate covering," barren often suggests aridity or impoverishment or sterility.

barren plains

When can bald be used instead of barren?

The synonyms bald and barren are sometimes interchangeable, but bald implies actual or seeming absence of natural covering and may suggest a conspicuous bareness.

a bald mountain peak

When might bare be a better fit than barren?

The words bare and barren are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, bare implies the removal of what is additional, superfluous, ornamental, or dispensable.

an apartment with bare walls

When could naked be used to replace barren?

While in some cases nearly identical to barren, naked suggests absence of protective or ornamental covering but may imply a state of nature, of destitution, or of defenselessness.

poor half-naked children

Where would nude be a reasonable alternative to barren?

The words nude and barren can be used in similar contexts, but nude applies especially to the unclothed human figure.

a nude model posing for art students

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Time Traveler for barren

Time Traveler

The first known use of barren was in the 13th century

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Cite this Entry

“Barren.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on barren

Nglish: Translation of barren for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barren for Arabic Speakers


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