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[bahr-bair-ee-uh n] /bɑrˈbɛər i ən/
a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.
(loosely) a foreigner.
  1. a non-Greek.
  2. a person living outside, especially north of, the Roman Empire.
  3. a person not living in a Christian country or within a Christian civilization.
(among Italians during the Renaissance) a person of non-Italian origin.
uncivilized; crude; savage.
foreign; alien.
1540-50; < Latin barbari(a) barbarous country (see barbarous, -ia) + -an
Related forms
barbarianism, noun
half-barbarian, adjective
nonbarbarian, adjective, noun
3. alien. 6. rude, primitive, wild, rough, barbaric, coarse, ignorant, uncultivated. Barbarian, barbaric, barbarous pertain to uncivilized people. Barbarian is the general word for anything uncivilized: a barbarian tribe. Barbaric has both unfavorable and mildly favorable connotations, implying crudeness of taste or practice, or conveying an idea of rude magnificence and splendor: barbaric noise. Barbarous emphasizes the inhumanity and cruelty of barbarian life: barbarous customs.
6. cultivated, civilized. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for barbarians
  • Modern science developed there, the rest of the world were barbarians by comparison.
  • In their case, they'd willingly invited barbarians inside their borders to help them fight off newer waves of hordes.
  • Nor, wild as were these painted barbarians, were they the wildest feature of the scene.
  • No sooner did this war break out against them, but the provinces became on every side a prey to barbarians.
  • The great deference paid to his instructions, even by barbarians, is not to be expressed.
  • Today the barbarians aren't confined to the bourses.
  • The people of course have suffered as resources were diverted to keep the barbarians at bay.
  • Slowly fear transitioned to fear of barbarians and fear of famine.
  • But between the different groups of barbarians there was a crucial difference.
  • There is always a tension between civilization and barbarism, and the barbarians are now here.
British Dictionary definitions for barbarians


a member of a primitive or uncivilized people
a coarse, insensitive, or uncultured person
a vicious person
of an uncivilized culture
insensitive, uncultured, or brutal
Derived Forms
barbarianism, noun
Word Origin
C16: see barbarous
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for barbarians



mid-14c., from Medieval Latin barbarinus (source of Old French barbarin "Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian"), from Latin barbaria "foreign country," from Greek barbaros "foreign, strange, ignorant," from PIE root *barbar- echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (cf. Sanskrit barbara- "stammering," also "non-Aryan," Latin balbus "stammering," Czech blblati "to stammer").

Greek barbaroi (n.) meant "all that are not Greek," but especially the Medes and Persians. Originally not entirely pejorative, its sense darkened after the Persian wars. The Romans (technically themselves barbaroi) took up the word and applied it to tribes or nations which had no Greek or Roman accomplishments. The noun is from late 14c., "person speaking a language different from one's own," also (c.1400) "native of the Barbary coast;" meaning "rude, wild person" is from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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barbarians in the Bible

a Greek word used in the New Testament (Rom. 1:14) to denote one of another nation. In Col. 3:11, the word more definitely designates those nations of the Roman empire that did not speak Greek. In 1 Cor. 14:11, it simply refers to one speaking a different language. The inhabitants of Malta are so called (Acts 28:1,2, 4). They were originally a Carthaginian colony. This word nowhere in Scripture bears the meaning it does in modern times.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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