[ bar-uhn ]
See synonyms for: barrenbarrensbarrenness on

  1. not producing or incapable of producing offspring; sterile: a barren woman.

  2. unproductive; unfruitful: barren land.

  1. without capacity to interest or attract: a barren period in American architecture.

  2. mentally unproductive; dull; stupid.

  3. not producing results; fruitless: a barren effort.

  4. destitute; bereft; lacking (usually followed by of): barren of tender feelings.

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

Origin of barren

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English barayn(e), bareyn(e), from Anglo-French barai(gn)e, Old French brahaigne (French bréhaigne “sterile”), akin to Spanish breña “scrubby, uncultivated ground,” Upper Italian barena “land along a lagoon covered by high water,” all of disputed ultimate origin; perhaps from Celtic (compare Irish branar, Welsh braenar “fallow land”); alternatively, perhaps from a Germanic source akin to Old English bær, Old High German bar (see bare1 )

synonym study For barren

2. See bare1.

Other words for barren

Opposites for barren

Other words from barren

  • bar·ren·ly, adverb
  • bar·ren·ness, noun
  • un·bar·ren, adjective
  • un·bar·ren·ly, adverb
  • un·bar·ren·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with barren Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use barren in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for barren


/ (ˈbærən) /

  1. incapable of producing offspring, seed, or fruit; sterile: a barren tree

  2. unable to support the growth of crops, etc; unproductive; bare: barren land

  1. lacking in stimulation or ideas; dull: a rather barren play

  2. not producing worthwhile results; unprofitable: a barren period in a writer's life

  3. (foll by of) totally lacking (in); devoid (of): his speech was barren of wit

  4. (of rock strata) having no fossils

Origin of barren

C13: from Old French brahain, of uncertain origin

Derived forms of barren

  • barrenly, adverb
  • barrenness, noun

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