a building for storing hay, grain, etc., and often for housing livestock.
a very large garage for buses, trucks, etc.; carbarn.

verb (used with object)

to store (hay, grain, etc.) in a barn.

Origin of barn

before 950; Middle English bern, Old English berern (bere (see barley1) + ern, ǣrn house, cognate with Old Frisian fīaern cowhouse, Old High German erin, Gothic razn, Old Norse rann house; cf. ransack, rest1)
Related formsbarn·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for barnlike

Historical Examples of barnlike

  • A big, barnlike structure had been erected which was called "the tabernacle."

  • Its exhibits were simple, the buildings that housed them fantastic and barnlike.

  • He took out his watch and looked at it, then his eye swept the broad row of trains in the gloomy, barnlike station.

    The Short Line War

    Samuel Merwin

  • Gwynette had not liked the room when she first arrived, as it was, she declared, too “barnlike” in its barrenness.


    Grace May North

  • This is a long fur-edged garment, very warm and pleasant in winter when the castle is a barnlike place.

    Life on a Mediaeval Barony

    William Stearns Davis

British Dictionary definitions for barnlike




a large farm outbuilding, used chiefly for storing hay, grain, etc, but also for housing livestock
US and Canadian a large shed for sheltering railroad cars, trucks, etc
any large building, esp an unattractive one
(modifier) relating to a system of poultry farming in which birds are allowed to move freely within a barnbarn eggs

Word Origin for barn

Old English beren, from bere barley + ærn room; see barley 1




a unit of nuclear cross section equal to 10 28 square metreSymbol: b

Word Origin for barn

C20: from barn 1; so called because of the relatively large cross section
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 barnlike



Old English bereærn "barn," literally "barley house," from bere "barley" (see barley) + aern "house," metathesized from *rann, *rasn (cf. Old Norse rann, Gothic razn "house," Old English rest "resting place;" sealtærn "saltworks").

Barley was not always the only crop grown as the data recovered at Bishopstone might suggest but it is always the most commonly represented, followed by wheat and then rye and oats. [C.J. Arnold, "An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms," 1988, p.36]

Another word for "barn" in Old English was beretun, "barley enclosure" (from tun "enclosure, house"), which accounts for the many Barton place names on the English map, and the common surname. Barn door used figuratively for "broad target" and "great size" since 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with barnlike


see can't hit the broad side of a barn; lock the barn door after the horse is stolen.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.