[ bahr-bair-ee-uhn ]
See synonyms for barbarian on
  1. a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.

  2. a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.

  1. (loosely) a foreigner.

  2. (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.

  3. (among Italians during the Renaissance) a person of non-Italian origin.

Origin of barbarian

First recorded in 1540–50; from Latin barbari(a) “barbarous country” (see barbarous, -ia) + -an

synonym study For barbarian

6. Barbarian, barbaric, barbarous pertain to uncivilized people. Barbarian is the general word for anything uncivilized: a barbarian tribe. Barbaric has both unfavorable and mildly favorable connotations, implying crudeness of taste or practice, or conveying an idea of rude magnificence and splendor: barbaric noise. Barbarous emphasizes the inhumanity and cruelty of barbarian life: barbarous customs.

Other words for barbarian

Opposites for barbarian

Other words from barbarian

  • bar·bar·i·an·ism, noun
  • half-bar·bar·i·an, adjective
  • non·bar·bar·i·an, adjective, noun

Words Nearby barbarian Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use barbarian in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for barbarian


/ (bɑːˈbɛərɪən) /

  1. a member of a primitive or uncivilized people

  2. a coarse, insensitive, or uncultured person

  1. a vicious person

  1. of an uncivilized culture

  2. insensitive, uncultured, or brutal

Origin of barbarian

C16: see barbarous

Derived forms of barbarian

  • barbarianism, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012