barbed wire

noun
a wire or strand of wires having small pieces of sharply pointed wire twisted around it at short intervals, used chiefly for fencing in livestock, keeping out trespassers, etc.
Also called barbwire.


Origin:
1860–65

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
barbed wire
 
n
Also called (US): barbwire strong wire with sharply pointed barbs at close intervals

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

barbed wire

fence wire usually consisting of two longitudinal wires twisted together to form cable and having wire barbs wound around either or both of the cable wires at regular intervals. The varieties of barbed wire are numerous, with cables being single or double, round, half-round, or flat and having a range of gauges. The twisted double cable provides extra strength and permits contraction and expansion without breakage. Barbs are diagonally cut in order to provide sharper points; they may consist of one or two pieces (two or four points) and are generally spaced at intervals of 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The hall itself was surrounded by a steel fence topped with barbed wire.
We ate nothing but barbed wire and asphalt sandwiches.
In the dark, power lines and barbed wire fences create invisible hazards during
  descent.
In the meantime, they've wrapped barbed wire around park headquarters, shutting
  down patrols.
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