Barbary

[bahr-buh-ree]
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noun

a region in N Africa, extending from W of Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean and including the former Barbary States.

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British Dictionary definitions for barbary

Barbary

noun

a historic name for a region of N Africa extending from W Egypt to the Atlantic and including the former Barbary States of Tripolitania, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco
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 barbary

Barbary

c.1300, "foreign lands" (especially non-Christian lands), from Latin barbaria (see barbarian). Meaning "Saracens living in coastal North Africa" is attested from 1590s, via French (Old French barbarie), from Arabic Barbar, Berber, ancient Arabic name for the inhabitants of North Africa beyond Egypt. Perhaps a native name, perhaps an Arabic word, from barbara "to babble confusedly," but this might be ultimately from Greek barbaria. "The actual relations (if any) of the Arabic and Gr[eek] words cannot be settled; but in European langs. barbaria, Barbarie, Barbary, have from the first been treated as identical with L. barbaria, Byzantine Gr[eek] barbaria land of barbarians" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper