[bahr-buh l]


a slender, external process on the jaw or other part of the head of certain fishes.
any of various cyprinoid fishes of the genus Barbus, especially B. barbus, of European waters.

Origin of barbel

1400–1450; late Middle English barbell < Middle French barbel (French barbeau) < Vulgar Latin *barbellus, equivalent to Late Latin barb(us) a barbel (fish) (akin to Latin barba beard) + Latin -ellus -elle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for barbel

antenna, hand, tentacle, finger, claw, whisker, barbel, vibrissa, palp, palpus

Examples from the Web for barbel

Historical Examples of barbel

  • Also, barbel is a small piece of armour which protects part of the bassenet.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • My acquaintance with barbel is also so limited that it counts for little.

  • Not even Barbel, Ann, or Metz took any special notice of your sister.

  • The barbel projecting from the chin denotes that it is a bottom feeder.

    The Sea Shore

    William S. Furneaux

  • When I reached home I told my wife the story of my friend Barbel.

    A Chosen Few

    Frank R. Stockton

British Dictionary definitions for barbel



any of several slender tactile spines or bristles that hang from the jaws of certain fishes, such as the catfish and carp
any of several European cyprinid fishes of the genus Barbus, esp B. barbus, that resemble the carp but have a longer body and pointed snout

Word Origin for barbel

C14: from Old French, from Latin barbus, from barba beard
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

barbel in Science



A slender, whiskerlike feeler extending from the head of certain fish, such as the catfish. It is used for touch and taste.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.