Definition of barbarous in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbärbərəs/


1Savagely cruel; exceedingly brutal: many early child-rearing practices were barbarous by modern standards
More example sentences
  • Yes it is brutal, savage and barbarous - but I have so much respect for the bravery of heavyweight boxers.
  • Before Hitler's atrocities exposed the barbarous extremes of social engineering, eugenic views were regarded as radical visions of social reform.
  • It might be harder still for some of us who have known people of influence and respect, who participated in policies which we regard today as outdated, barbarous, cruel and racist.
2Primitive; uncivilized: a remote and barbarous country
More example sentences
  • But was it fair to call Africa barbarous and uncivilized, and to say that the slave traders were doing no harm by removing people from that continent?
  • Call me barbarous, call me ignorant, but at least I won't have this disturbing feeling that I'm helping someone make piles of money off whatever terrible event is unfolding at the moment.
  • Now suppose the Professor found the use of shells to be primitive and irrational - ‘a barbarous relic!’
2.1(Especially of language) coarse and unrefined.
Example sentences
  • I don't think it needs to be described in that barbarous language, which has become infected by that awful poltroon, Foucault.
  • Lithuanian was considered to be a barbarous language, unworthy of religious use, so Polish was used for all official religious business.
  • Full of zesty barbarous language and wordplay, it reminds me of why Wilde is so revered.



Pronunciation: /ˈbärb(ə)rəslē/
Example sentences
  • It is also an enormous affront to the memory of the 3,000 men and women murdered so barbarously on 11 September 2001.
  • Moreover, the September 11 attacks vividly showed what many have warned of for some time: terrorism's reach is broad, its resources deep and its intentions barbarously lethal.
  • As Ellis describes it: ‘‘Homosexual’ is a barbarously hybrid word.’


Late Middle English (sense 2): via Latin from Greek barbaros 'foreign' + -ous.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bar·ba·rous

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