- 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 for barbarian on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for barbarian
I wrote my first book listening to the soundtrack to the movie Conan the Barbarian on a loop.Junot Díaz: How I Write
August 21, 2013
Instead of thinking of a sharp distinction between "Roman" and "barbarian," we should think in terms of economic zones.David's Book Club: Empires and Barbarians
January 6, 2013
What can explain Morris's insistence in continuing to describe whole cultures and societies as "barbarian"?A Second Response to Benny Morris
April 24, 2012
Lastly, Levy objects to my occasional use, in the past, of the word "barbarian".A Response to Daniel Levy
April 17, 2012
Morris has said that “the Arab world as it is today is barbarian.”Of Herrings and Elephants: Benny Morris and "Palestinian Rejectionism"
April 16, 2012
Almost every Barbarian at the table had made his own fortune.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
The intelligence and facilities of Government are but one step above the barbarian.The Railroad Question
I am a Prince of Naples, and I'll not bend the knee to a barbarian.The Historical Nights' Entertainment
How could you be such a barbarian as to see the head of a man cut off?
It's a heap onadvisable when addressin' us to overwork that word "barbarian."Faro Nell and Her Friends
Alfred Henry Lewis
- 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 barbarian
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.