verb (used with object), barred, bar·ring.


except; omitting; but: bar none.


    at bar, Law.
    1. before the court and being tried: a case at bar.
    2. before all the judges of a court: a trial at bar.
    behind bars, in jail: We wanted the criminal behind bars.

Origin of bar

1175–1225; Middle English barre < Old French < Vulgar Latin *barra rod, of obscure, perhaps of pre-Latin orig.
Related formsbar·less, adjectivebar·ra·ble, adjectiveun·bar·ra·ble, adjective

Synonyms for bar

Synonym study

6. Bar, barrier, barricade mean something put in the way of advance. Bar has the general meaning of hindrance or obstruction: a bar across the doorway. Barrier suggests an impediment to progress or a defensive obstruction (natural or artificial): a trade barrier; a mountain barrier; a road barrier. A barricade is especially a pile of articles hastily gathered or a rude earthwork for protection in street fighting: a barricade of wooden boxes. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for behind bars

confined, imprisoned, incarcerated

British Dictionary definitions for behind bars


abbreviation for

Browning Automatic Rifle


noun the Bar

(in England and elsewhere) barristers collectively
US the legal profession collectively
be called to the Bar British to become a barrister
be called within the Bar British to be appointed as a Queen's Counsel




a rigid usually straight length of metal, wood, etc, that is longer than it is wide or thick, used esp as a barrier or as a structural or mechanical parta bar of a gate
a solid usually rectangular block of any materiala bar of soap
anything that obstructs or prevents
  1. an offshore ridge of sand, mud, or shingle lying near the shore and parallel to it, across the mouth of a river, bay, or harbour, or linking an island to the mainland
  2. US and Canadianan alluvial deposit in a stream, river, or lake
a counter or room where alcoholic drinks are served
a counter, room, or establishment where a particular range of goods, food, services, etc, are solda coffee bar; a heel bar
a narrow band or stripe, as of colour or light
a heating element in an electric fire
(in England) the area in a court of law separating the part reserved for the bench and Queen's Counsel from the area occupied by junior barristers, solicitors, and the general publicSee also Bar
the place in a court of law where the accused stands during his trialthe prisoner at the bar
a particular court of law
British (in the House of Lords and House of Commons) the boundary where nonmembers wishing to address either House appear and where persons are arraigned
a plea showing that a plaintiff has no cause of action, as when the case has already been adjudicated upon or the time allowed for bringing the action has passed
anything referred to as an authority or tribunalthe bar of decency
Also called: measure music
  1. a group of beats that is repeated with a consistent rhythm throughout a piece or passage of music. The number of beats in the bar is indicated by the time signature
  2. another word for bar line
  1. Britishinsignia added to a decoration indicating a second award
  2. USa strip of metal worn with uniform, esp to signify rank or as an award for service
a variant spelling of barre
sport See crossbar
gymnastics See horizontal bar
  1. part of the metal mouthpiece of a horse's bridle
  2. the space between the horse's teeth in which such a part fits
either of two horny extensions that project forwards and inwards from the rear of the outer layer of a horse's hoof
lacemaking needlework another name for bride 2
heraldry an ordinary consisting of a horizontal line across a shield, typically narrower than a fesse, and usually appearing in twos or threes
maths a superscript line ⁻ placed over a letter symbol to indicate, for example, a mean value or the complex conjugate of a complex number
behind bars in prison
won't have a bar of or wouldn't have a bar of Australian and NZ informal cannot tolerate; dislike

verb bars, barring or barred (tr)

to fasten or secure with a barto bar the door
to shut in or out with or as if with barriersto bar the entrances
to obstruct; hinderthe fallen tree barred the road
(usually foll by from) to prohibit; forbidto bar a couple from meeting
(usually foll by from) to keep out; excludeto bar a person from membership
to mark with a bar or bars
law to prevent or halt (an action) by showing that the claimant has no cause
to mark off (music) into bars with bar lines


except forthe best recital bar last night's
bar none without exception

Word Origin for bar

C12: from Old French barre, from Vulgar Latin barra (unattested) bar, rod, of unknown origin




a cgs unit of pressure equal to 10 6 dynes per square centimetre. 1 bar is equivalent to 10 5 newtons per square metre

Word Origin for bar

C20: from Greek baros weight




immunity from being caught or otherwise penalized in a game


a cry for such immunity

Word Origin for bar

variant of barley ²
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 behind bars



unit of pressure, coined 1903 from Greek baros "weight," from barys "heavy" (see grave (adj.)).



c.1300, "to fasten (a gate, etc.) with a bar," from bar (n.1); sense of "to obstruct, prevent" is recorded by 1570s. Expression bar none "without exception" is recorded from 1866.



late 12c., "stake or rod of iron used to fasten a door or gate," from Old French barre (12c.) "beam, bar, gate, barrier," from Vulgar Latin *barra "bar, barrier," which some suggest is from Gaulish *barros "the bushy end" [Gamillscheg], but OED regards this as "discredited" because it "in no way suits the sense." Of soap, by 1833; of candy, by 1906 (the process itself dates to the 1840s). Meaning "bank of sand across a harbor or river mouth" is from 1580s, probably so called because it was an obstruction to navigation. Bar graph is attested from 1925. Bar code first recorded 1963. Behind bars "in prison" is attested by 1934, U.S.



"tavern," 1590s, so called in reference to the bars of the barrier or counter over which drinks or food were served to customers (see bar (n.1)).



"whole body of lawyers, the legal profession," 1550s, a sense which derives ultimately from the railing that separated benchers from the hall in the Inns of Court. Students who had attained a certain standing were "called" to it to take part in the important exercises of the house. After c.1600, however, this was popularly assumed to mean the bar in a courtroom, which was the wooden railing marking off the area around the judge's seat, where prisoners stood for arraignment and where a barrister (q.v.) stood to plead. As the place where the business of court was done, bar in this sense had become synonymous with "court" by early 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

behind bars in Medicine




The international unit of pressure equal to 1 megadyne (106 dyne) per square centimeter or 0.987 atmosphere.
A metal segment of greater length than width which serves to connect two or more parts of a removable partial denture.
A segment of tissue or a tight cellular junction that serves to constrict the passage of fluid, usually urine.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

behind bars in Science



A unit used to measure atmospheric pressure. It is equal to a force of 100,000 newtons per square meter of surface area, or 0.987 atmosphere.
An elongated, offshore ridge of sand, gravel, or other unconsolidated sediment, formed by the action of waves or long-shore currents and submerged at least during high tide. Bars are especially common near the mouths of rivers or estuaries.
A ridgelike mound of sand, gravel or silt formed within a stream, along its banks, or at its mouth. Bars form where the stream's current slows down, causing sediment to be deposited.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with behind bars

behind bars

In prison, as in All murderers should be put behind bars for life. The bars here refer to the iron rods used to confine prisoners. [c. 1900]


In addition to the idiom beginning with bar

  • bare bones
  • bare hands, with one's
  • bare necessities
  • bare one's soul
  • bare one's teeth
  • barge in
  • bar none

also see:

  • behind bars
  • no holds barred
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.