1 [bahrn]
a building for storing hay, grain, etc., and often for housing livestock.
a very large garage for buses, trucks, etc.; carbarn.
verb (used with object)
to store (hay, grain, etc.) in a barn.

before 950; Middle English bern, Old English berern (bere (see barley1) + ern, ǣrn house, cognate with Old Frisian fīaern cowhouse, Old High German erin, Gothic razn, Old Norse rann house; cf. ransack, rest1)

barnlike, adjective Unabridged


2 [bahrn]
noun Physics.
a unit of nuclear cross section, equal to 10 −24 square centimeter. Abbreviation: b

1945–50; special use of barn1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
barn1 (bɑːn)
1.  a large farm outbuilding, used chiefly for storing hay, grain, etc, but also for housing livestock
2.  (US), (Canadian) a large shed for sheltering railroad cars, trucks, etc
3.  any large building, esp an unattractive one
4.  (modifier) relating to a system of poultry farming in which birds are allowed to move freely within a barn: barn eggs
[Old English beren, from bere barley + ærn room; see barley1]

barn2 (bɑːn)
b a unit of nuclear cross section equal to 10--28 square metre
[C20: from barn1; so called because of the relatively large cross section]

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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Word Origin & History

O.E. bereærn "barn," lit. "barley house," from bere "barley" (see barley) + aern "house," metathesized from *rann, *rasn (cf. O.N. rann, Goth. razn "house," O.E. rest "resting place").
"Barley was not always the only crop grown as the data recovered at Bishopstone might suggest but it is always the most commonly represented, followed by wheat and then rye and oats." [C.J. Arnold, "An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms," 1988, p.36]
Another word for "barn" in O.E. was beretun, "barley enclosure" (from tun "enclosure, house"), which accounts for the many Barton place names on the English map, and the common surname. Barn door figurative for "broad target" and "great size" since 1540s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Barn definition

a storehouse (Deut. 28:8; Job 39:12; Hag. 2:19) for grain, which was usually under ground, although also sometimes above ground (Luke 12:18).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see can't hit the broad side of a barn; lock the barn door after the horse is stolen.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Here in a converted barn, their nameplates were hung outside empty offices that
  once belonged to residential faculty members.
The threat is real, but your diagnosis of the reasons misses the broad side of
  the barn.
Among the remains were an abundance of swiftlets and songbirds, which may have
  been hunted by barn owls found at the site.
My dad sprayed some kind of plant oil on them that he picked from around the
  barn and killed them.
Images for barn
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