- a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
- a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.
- (loosely) a foreigner.
- (in ancient and medieval periods)
- a non-Greek.
- a person living outside, especially north of, the Roman Empire.
- a person not living in a Christian country or within a Christian civilization.
- (among Italians during the Renaissance) a person of non-Italian origin.
- uncivilized; crude; savage.
- foreign; alien.
Origin of barbarian
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- a member of a primitive or uncivilized people
- a coarse, insensitive, or uncultured person
- a vicious person
- of an uncivilized culture
- insensitive, uncultured, or brutal
Word Origin and History for barbarianism
mid-14c., from Medieval Latin barbarinus (source of Old French barbarin "Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian"), from Latin barbaria "foreign country," from Greek barbaros "foreign, strange, ignorant," from PIE root *barbar- echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (cf. Sanskrit barbara- "stammering," also "non-Aryan," Latin balbus "stammering," Czech blblati "to stammer").
Greek barbaroi (n.) meant "all that are not Greek," but especially the Medes and Persians. Originally not entirely pejorative, its sense darkened after the Persian wars. The Romans (technically themselves barbaroi) took up the word and applied it to tribes or nations which had no Greek or Roman accomplishments. The noun is from late 14c., "person speaking a language different from one's own," also (c.1400) "native of the Barbary coast;" meaning "rude, wild person" is from 1610s.