Definition of barrier in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbarɪə/


1A fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access: the mountain barrier between Norway and Sweden
More example sentences
  • However, he told council he would like to protect the fence with barriers, to prevent vehicle operators from accidentally running into the fence.
  • The only barrier is to the movement of cars onto the streetcar tracks.
  • As helicopters buzzed overhead, army engineers erected concrete barriers and razor wire fences in the fields off Drumcree Road.
fence, railing, barricade, hurdle, bar, blockade, roadblock;
1.1British A gate at a car park or railway station that controls access by being raised or lowered.
Example sentences
  • An investigation has been launched after a minibus full of passengers went through the barriers at Manningtree railway station - just seconds before a train was due to arrive.
  • Automatic barriers at the village railway station were controlled by rail staff during the emergency.
  • Nurses at Wallsend Aged Care Facility have voted to take industrial action if work commences to build barriers or gates to car parking areas.
1.2A circumstance or obstacle that keeps people or things apart or prevents communication or progress: a language barrier the cultural barriers to economic growth
More example sentences
  • The large food retailers are going global, and as barriers to trade come down, the economics ate determining where the investment and trade take place.
  • But the remaining barriers to completely liberalized trade lend themselves to be very focused defensive positions.
  • What are the barriers to effective communication?
obstacle, obstruction, hurdle, stumbling block, bar, block, impediment, hindrance;
snag, catch, drawback, hitch, handicap, deterrent, complication, difficulty, problem, disadvantage, baulk, curb, check, stop
informal fly in the ointment, hiccup, facer
British informal spanner in the works
North American informal monkey wrench in the works
literary trammel
archaic cumber


Late Middle English (denoting a palisade or fortification defending an entrance): from Old French barriere, of unknown origin; related to barre.

  • bar from Middle English:

    There are few more functional words than bar. It gives us bars of soap and chocolate, bars serving drinks, bars that we can put criminals behind, and in Britain members of the Bar who can help put them there. The word entered English from French in the early Middle Ages, but beyond that its history is unknown. Its earliest use was for fastening a gate or door. People used it for various kinds of barrier (Late Middle English), a related word. In a court a bar marked off the area around the judge's seat, where prisoners were brought to be charged, hence prisoner at the bar. At the Inns of Court, where lawyers were trained in England, a bar separated students from those qualified, and a student was ‘called to the bar’ to become a fully fledged barrister (Late Middle English). From this the Bar came to mean the whole body of barristers, or the barrister's profession, as early as the 16th century. At this time a bar was also a barrier or counter from which drink was served.

    From barring doors and barring a person's way, it took a small step for bar to mean ‘to prohibit’, as in no holds barred (mid 20th century), and ‘except’: bar none (early 18th century) means ‘without exception’.

Words that rhyme with barrier

carrier, farrier, harrier, tarrier

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bar|rier

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