There are 2 main definitions of barb in English:

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barb 1

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1A sharp projection near the end of an arrow, fish hook, or similar object, which is angled away from the main point so as to make extraction difficult.
Example sentences
  • It was a simple hunting arrow, without a particularly sharp edge or barbs that would make it harder to remove.
  • The head, neck, and rump are protected by quills, the tips of which are covered with backwards projecting barbs which make their removal painful and difficult.
  • The physician should advance the fishhook to disengage the barb, then pull and twist it so that the point enters the lumen of the needle.
spike, prong, point, projection, spur, thorn, needle, prickle, spine, quill, bristle, tine
technical spicule, spicula, spiculum, spinule
1.1A cluster of spikes on barbed wire.
Example sentences
  • The barbed wire is, er, a piece of rusty barbed wire about 120 mm long - with one barb.
  • The devices fire two barbs attached to a wire that deliver a 50,000-volt shock on contact for up to five seconds.
  • The creeping mist coiled its tendrils round the spiky barbs like grasping fingers.
1.2A deliberately hurtful remark: his barb hurt more than she cared to admit
More example sentences
  • Although Ferguson spoke with only a semi-serious tone, there was a barb within his remarks, as is often the case with jokes.
  • Everyone in that room expected me to reply to his hurtful comments with barbs of my own but I sat there quietly, fuming inside yet refusing to stoop to his level.
  • Taunts that players receive when they're involved in road games may be brutal, but they don't inflict as much hurt as the barbs tossed at them by fans in their home park.
insult, sneer, jibe, cut, cutting remark, shaft, affront, slap in the face, slight, rebuff, brickbat, slur, scoff, jeer, taunt;
(barbsabuse, disparagement, scoffing, scorn, spite, sarcasm, goading, ridiculing, derision, mockery
informal dig, put-down
2A beard-like filament at the mouth of some fish, such as barbel and catfish.
Example sentences
  • The hybrids were good looking fish but careful examination of the mouths would show tell-tale signs of small barbs and their top fins were more carp-shaped.
2.1Each of the fine hair-like filaments growing from the shaft of a feather, forming the vane.
Example sentences
  • The feather was identified as eagle from its size, color, and the coarse texture of the pennaceous barbs.
  • If you look at a feather under a microscope, you see the main stem, with barbs coming out to the left and right, and from these you have left-and right-handed barbules.
  • Feathers, however bizarre or morphologically complex, consist essentially of a rachis, barbs, and barbules.
3A freshwater fish with barbels around the mouth, popular in aquaria.
  • Barbus and other genera, family Cyprinidae: numerous species
Example sentences
  • Many Indian species like catfish, dwarf and giant gourami, and barbs are popular abroad and fetch good prices.
  • These species include the giant barb (a type of carp), the giant freshwater stingray, and the river catfish.
  • Like East Africa's other Great Lakes, Lake Victoria was also colonized by other types of river fish, such as barbs and catfish.


Example sentences
  • Not only is the move good for the fish - barbless hooks are easier to remove from their mouths, meaning they're being handled less - but good for the fishers as well.
  • Separate nets for large and small fish, barbless hooks, keepnet restrictions and minimum line strengths are all common regulations on the area's many stillwater fisheries.
  • Using barbless hooks will always make the fish easier to release and if possible, try to do the releasing whilst the fish is still in the water.


Middle English (denoting a piece of linen worn over or under the chin by nuns): from Old French barbe, from Latin barba 'beard'.

Words that rhyme with barb

carb, garb, hijab, nawab, Punjab, sahib
Definition of barb in:
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There are 2 main definitions of barb in English:

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barb 2 Line breaks: barb


A small horse of a hardy breed originally from North Africa.
Example sentences
  • The Rancho riding herd is usually 27 horses, mainly Spanish barbs and mixes of that breed.
  • Spahis rode hardy little barb stallions, which they controlled with severe bits.
  • She lets all her barbs hang like that; verging on the rhetorical.


Mid 17th century: from French barbe, from Italian barbero 'of Barbary'.

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