Definition of barren in English:

barren

Line breaks: bar¦ren
Pronunciation: /ˈbar(ə)n
 
/

adjective

1(Of land) too poor to produce much or any vegetation: the plains of Kyrenia were barren the barren, burnt-up countryside
More example sentences
  • What is immediately striking is the lushness of these high pastures - such a contrast to the common perception of Ethiopia as a barren land.
  • I hope I dissolve in it, consumed by the richness of all that could have been in this barren land marked by the distant and deep scars of many a past harsh summer…
  • The mere sound of the word ‘monsoon’ conjures up magical images of heavy rain rejuvenating and reviving a starved, parched and barren land.
Synonyms
1.1(Of a tree or plant) not producing fruit or seed: the barren fig tree
More example sentences
  • Catriona Boyle and Joanna Kerr give advice on a plague of wild garlic and barren fruit trees.
  • She stretched as much as she was able and the sun embraced her completely, as much as it was able, diffused by the ugly architecture and the barren trees.
  • As a photographer, Ziegler is mostly concerned with capturing human emotion, a story a rusty silo or barren tree can't tell.
1.2 archaic (Of a woman) infertile.
More example sentences
  • In Act Two the barren Lady Kix, lamenting her childless and unfruitful state, is overhead by Touchwood Senior.
  • By contrast the prehistoric stones have been seen as male symbols of fertility with the power to impregnate barren women.
  • Even if they loved each other very much, a man would be forced to divorce a barren wife due to the pressure from his own family.
Synonyms
1.3(Of a female animal) not pregnant or unable to become so.
More example sentences
  • Pregnancy testing is done early and regularly to pull out barren cows.
  • It concentrates the mind when you are block calving because you sell all your barren cows in one go.
  • Samren moved his eyes from the barren fox to his son, Caspar.
2Showing no results or achievements; unproductive: he scored yesterday to end his barren spell
More example sentences
  • Moore's next task is to end a three-month barren spell dating back to his last goal, against Stoke City in September's 2-2 Turf Moor draw.
  • The former Liverpool striker has had a torrid time in front of goal recently but he put his barren spell firmly behind him with what turned out to be the winner at St James' Park.
  • The 40-year-old's Singapore success ends a barren spell for the Ryder Cup star.
3(Of a place or building) bleak and lifeless: the sports hall turned out to be a rather barren concrete building the flat feels too tidy, almost barren
More example sentences
  • He lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Iceland, a bleak, barren place with one or two buildings, a few fussy townsfolk, and a lot of snow and cold.
  • He wanted it to bust out the front of his face, eat his whole body, rend him limb from limb and toss the severed remains of his body to the four winds of that bleak and barren place.
  • The place was barren and bleak, and as far as she could see it was devoid of any inhabitants.
3.1Empty of meaning or value: your life will be barren
More example sentences
  • Your mission is to capture the essence of a scene, not the barren facts.
  • It opens up windows on our society, our selves, and our barren ideas.
  • No doubt there is a spiritual egoism, built on barren ideas concerning oneself with no real practice behind them, that one can easily fall into.
Synonyms
pointless, futile, worthless, profitless, valueless, unrewarding, purposeless, useless, vain, aimless; uninteresting, boring, dull, drab, dry, arid, flat, lifeless, uninspiring, unstimulating, stale, prosaic, hollow, empty, vacuous, vapid
3.2 (barren of) Devoid of: the room was barren of furniture
More example sentences
  • We rode through farm country where fields stretched as far as I could see, but barren of the crops Willie and I used to see when we came South during the summertime.
  • The Democrats purposely chose a candidate with a 22-year history in elective office entirely barren of any distinction.
  • But everyone exploits its use, until that time certain when it becomes soiled and haggard, barren of its previous virtues.

noun

(usually barrens) chiefly North American Back to top  
A barren tract or tracts of land: the Newfoundland barrens
More example sentences
  • After exploring gentle mountain slopes, taiga flatland and highland barrens, we suddenly reached the plateau's edge.
  • They encompass 2,400 square miles of wooded mountains, high-elevation bogs and pine barrens, replete with winding rivers and spectacular waterfalls.
  • He thought of the bliss the two kids had, him and Unico, as they raced across the barrens plains, past the sign, and darting through the stone forest.

Origin

Middle English: from Old French barhaine, of unknown origin.

Derivatives

barrenly

adverb
More example sentences
  • The northern view to our little island Isay is blocked by the 500-metre peak of Ben Dhubh, but to the north-west, Taransay looks barrenly formidable.
  • The catalogue, indeed, makes out Penone's work to be sad, even sinister, rather than barrenly clever.
  • ‘With Vietnam, it barrenly interfered in our internal affairs by deliberately agitating rebellions and illegal border crossings and stating it will accept those they brand as ‘refugees’,’ the daily said.

barrenness

Pronunciation: /ˈbar(ə)nnɪs/
noun
More example sentences
  • Granted, deserts are teeming with life, but we typically associate notions of barrenness, emptiness, lifelessnessand other such ideas with ‘desert.’
  • God save us from such barrenness of imagination.
  • Composting and re-cycling were a well-established part of their lives and they looked upon the soil as ‘something to be redeemed from rugged barrenness into smiling fertility and beauty’.

Definition of barren in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day anomalous
Pronunciation: əˈnɒm(ə)ləs
adjective
deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected