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barren

[bar-uh n] /ˈbær ən/
adjective
1.
not producing or incapable of producing offspring; sterile:
a barren woman.
2.
unproductive; unfruitful:
barren land.
3.
without capacity to interest or attract:
a barren period in American architecture.
4.
mentally unproductive; dull; stupid.
5.
not producing results; fruitless:
a barren effort.
6.
destitute; bereft; lacking (usually followed by of):
barren of tender feelings.
noun
7.
Usually, barrens. level or slightly rolling land, usually with a sandy soil and few trees, and relatively infertile.
Origin
1200-1250
1200-50; Middle English bareyn(e), barayn(e) < Anglo-French barai(gn)e, Old French brahaigne (French bréhaigne (of animals) sterile), akin to Spanish breña scrubby, uncultivated ground, Upper Italian barena land along a lagoon covered by high water; apparently < Celtic, compare Welsh braenar, Irish branar fallow land, but derivational details unclear
Related forms
barrenly, adverb
barrenness, noun
unbarren, adjective
unbarrenly, adverb
unbarrenness, noun
Can be confused
barren, baron, baronet.
Synonyms
1. childless, unprolific, infertile. 2. infertile, depleted, waste. See bare1 . 5. ineffectual, ineffective.
Antonyms
1–6. fertile.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for barren
  • In mountainous areas avalanches and mud slides leave barren paths that soon support extensive stands.
  • There is no denying that the employment landscape looks bleak and barren.
  • Touched by sunlight, barren winter treetops glow in Minnesota.
  • He lived in a barren one-bedroom apartment and owned almost nothing.
  • The final stop was on a barren plateau, high above the river valley, .
  • The barren landscape is as visible today as it was more than 100 years ago.
  • For six months the men lived on the barren island, blasting and chipping away at the hard coral.
  • The two-story, white-brick traditional home looks appealing, even if miscast among barren cornfields and farms.
  • Barbers sat in their barren shops, waiting for customers.
  • The lawn is brown and barren in spots, and the grand banquet hall is a bit shabby and dusty.
British Dictionary definitions for barren

barren

/ˈbærən/
adjective
1.
incapable of producing offspring, seed, or fruit; sterile a barren tree
2.
unable to support the growth of crops, etc; unproductive; bare barren land
3.
lacking in stimulation or ideas; dull a rather barren play
4.
not producing worthwhile results; unprofitable a barren period in a writer's life
5.
(foll by of) totally lacking (in); devoid (of) his speech was barren of wit
6.
(of rock strata) having no fossils
Derived Forms
barrenly, adverb
barrenness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French brahain, of uncertain origin
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 barren
barren
c.1300, from O.Fr. baraigne, baraing "sterile, barren" (12c.), perhaps originally brahain, of obscure derivation, perhaps from a Germanic language. In England, originally used of women, of land in France.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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barren in Medicine

barren bar·ren (bār'ən)
adj.

  1. Not producing offspring.

  2. Incapable of producing offspring.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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barren in the Bible

For a woman to be barren was accounted a severe punishment among the Jews (Gen. 16:2; 30:1-23; 1 Sam. 1:6, 27; Isa. 47:9; 49:21; Luke 1:25). Instances of barrenness are noticed (Gen. 11:30; 25:21; 29:31; Judg. 13:2, 3; Luke 1:7, 36).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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8
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