[ bahr-ber-uhs ]
/ ˈbɑr bər əs /


uncivilized; wild; savage; crude.
savagely cruel or harsh: The prisoners of war were given barbarous treatment.
full of harsh sounds; noisy; discordant: an evening of wild and barbarous music.
not conforming to classical standards or accepted usage, as language.
foreign; alien.
(among ancient Greeks) designating a person or thing of non-Greek origin.

Origin of barbarous

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin barbarus < Greek bárbaros non-Greek, foreign, barbarian; akin to Sanskrit barbara stammering, non-Aryan; see -ous
Related forms

Synonym study

1. See barbarian. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for barbarous

British Dictionary definitions for barbarous


/ (ˈbɑːbərəs) /


uncivilized; primitive
brutal or cruel
lacking refinement
Derived Formsbarbarously, adverbbarbarousness, noun

Word Origin for barbarous

C15: via Latin from Greek barbaros barbarian, non-Greek, in origin imitative of incomprehensible speech; compare Sanskrit barbara stammering, non-Aryan
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 barbarous



c.1400, "uncivilized, uncultured, ignorant," from Latin barbarus, from Greek barbaros (see barbarian). Meaning "not Greek or Latin" (of words or language) is from c.1500; that of "savagely cruel" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper