English Dictionary

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barren (ˈbærən Pronunciation for barren



  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'

Did last season's troubles, then, give him an insight into what it was like for Celtic during their barren years.
Glasgow Herald (2001)
In the winter they were grey and barren , shrouded with cloud and often covered with deep snow.
Stuart Harrison LOST SUMMER (2002)
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)
Like the empty streams scarring the barren land around her, the lines on her face are etched deep, aging her beyond her 51 years.
India Today (1998)
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
The doom-mongers had written her off in the barren years of her first attempted comeback.
Glasgow Herald (2001)
The geologists lived in tents, dug their own latrine and lugged around bags of rock samples on the barren land.
Edmonton Sun (2003)
They told her how to grow vegetables in the barren , sandy soil.
Rice, Judith New Testaments
Where rivers were once barren of the aggressive giants, a spotlight at night will now reflect a frightening number of reptilian eyes.
New Zealand Herald (2003)


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