Origin of barrier

1275–1325; Middle English < Middle French barriere (barre bar1 + -iere < Latin -āria -ary); replacing Middle English barrere < Anglo-French < Medieval Latin barrera

Synonyms for barrier

Synonym study

1–3. See bar1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for barrier

Contemporary Examples of barrier

Historical Examples of barrier

  • In the midst of the barrier stood an altar, on the top of which was a brazen eagle.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • The barrier between Dick and Viviette was not of his making.


    William J. Locke

  • They no longer had that, and between them both lay like a barrier their last conversation.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • It is pride that sets a barrier between you and your companions.

  • It was evidently impracticable to pass the barrier of that reply.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for barrier



anything serving to obstruct passage or to maintain separation, such as a fence or gate
anything that prevents or obstructs passage, access, or progressa barrier of distrust
anything that separates or hinders uniona language barrier
  1. an exposed offshore sand bar separated from the shore by a lagoon
  2. (as modifier)a barrier beach
(sometimes capital) that part of the Antarctic icecap extending over the sea

Word Origin for barrier

C14: from Old French barriere, from barre bar 1
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 barrier

early 14c., barere, from Anglo-French barrere, Old French barriere "obstacle, gatekeeper," from barre "bar" (see bar (n.1)). First record of barrier reef is from 1805.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for barrier




A boundary or limit.
An obstacle or impediment.
Something that separates or holds apart.
Something immaterial that obstructs or impedes behavior.
A physical or biological factor that limits the migration, interbreeding, or free movement of individuals or populations.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.