English Dictionary

Pioneers in dictionary publishing since 1819

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
  3. lacking in stimulation or ideas; dull   ⇒  ■ a rather barren play
  4. not producing worthwhile results; unprofitable   ⇒  ■ a barren period in a writer's life
  5. (followed by of) totally lacking (in); devoid (of)   ⇒  ■ his speech was barren of wit
  6. (of rock strata) having no fossils

Derived Forms

ˈbarrenly  adverb
ˈbarrenness  noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French brahain, of uncertain origin


View thesaurus entry
= empty, clear, vacant, void, unfilled
= infertile, sterile, childless, unproductive, nonproductive, infecund, unprolific

Translations for 'barren'

  • British English: barren A barren landscape is dry and bare, and has very few plants and no trees. ADJECTIVE...the country's landscape of high barren mountains.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: estéril
  • Chinese: 荒芜的荒芜蕪的
  • European Spanish: árido árida
  • French: aride
  • German: unfruchtbar
  • Italian: arido arida
  • Japanese: 不毛の
  • Korean: 불모의
  • Portuguese: estéril
  • Spanish: árido árida

Example Sentences Including 'barren'

The blackened rocks and earth were barren , and the mountainsides stank like the ashes of a vast funeral pyre.
Forrest, Roberta When the Apricots Bloom
It wasn't alone in that; there were dozens of such places scattered across the barren wastelands of the Soviet Union.
Mark Burnell CHAMELEON (2002)
In the winter they were grey and barren , shrouded with cloud and often covered with deep snow.
Stuart Harrison LOST SUMMER (2002)


Log in to comment on this word.