barren

[ bar-uhn ]
/ ˈbær ən /

adjective

noun

Usually barrens. level or slightly rolling land, usually with a sandy soil and few trees, and relatively infertile.

Nearby words

  1. barreleye,
  2. barrelfish,
  3. barrelful,
  4. barrelhead,
  5. barrelhouse,
  6. barren ground caribou,
  7. barren grounds,
  8. barren lands,
  9. barren strawberry,
  10. barrenly

Origin of barren

1200–50; Middle English bareyn(e), barayn(e) < Anglo-French barai(gn)e, Old French brahaigne (French bréhaigne (of animals) sterile), akin to Spanish breña scrubby, uncultivated ground, Upper Italian barena land along a lagoon covered by high water; apparently < Celtic, compare Welsh braenar, Irish branar fallow land, but derivational details unclear

Related forms
Can be confusedbarren baron baronet

Synonym study

2. See bare1.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for barren


British Dictionary definitions for barren

barren

/ (ˈbærən) /

adjective

incapable of producing offspring, seed, or fruit; sterilea barren tree
unable to support the growth of crops, etc; unproductive; barebarren land
lacking in stimulation or ideas; dulla rather barren play
not producing worthwhile results; unprofitablea barren period in a writer's life
(foll by of) totally lacking (in); devoid (of)his speech was barren of wit
(of rock strata) having no fossils
Derived Formsbarrenly, adverbbarrenness, noun

Word Origin for barren

C13: from Old French brahain, of uncertain origin

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 barren

barren

adj.

c.1200, from Old French baraigne, baraing "sterile, barren" (12c.), perhaps originally brahain, of obscure derivation, perhaps from a Germanic language. In England, originally used of women, of land in France. Of land in English from late 14c. As a noun, mid-13c., "a barren woman;" later of land.

BARRENS. Elevated lands, or plains upon which grow small trees, but never timber. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for barren

barren

[ bărən ]

adj.

Not producing offspring.
Incapable of producing offspring.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.