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barbarian

[bahr-bair-ee-uhn]
noun
  1. a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
  2. a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.
  3. (loosely) a foreigner.
  4. (in ancient and medieval periods)
    1. a non-Greek.
    2. a person living outside, especially north of, the Roman Empire.
    3. a person not living in a Christian country or within a Christian civilization.
  5. (among Italians during the Renaissance) a person of non-Italian origin.
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adjective
  1. uncivilized; crude; savage.
  2. foreign; alien.
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Origin of barbarian

1540–50; < Latin barbari(a) barbarous country (see barbarous, -ia) + -an
Related formsbar·bar·i·an·ism, nounhalf-bar·bar·i·an, adjectivenon·bar·bar·i·an, adjective, noun

Synonyms

Synonym study

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.

Antonyms

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for barbarianism

barbarian

noun
  1. a member of a primitive or uncivilized people
  2. a coarse, insensitive, or uncultured person
  3. a vicious person
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adjective
  1. of an uncivilized culture
  2. insensitive, uncultured, or brutal
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Derived Formsbarbarianism, noun

Word Origin

C16: see barbarous
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

Word Origin and History for barbarianism

barbarian

adj.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper