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8 Wintry Words to Defrost Your Vocabulary

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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British Dictionary definitions for barrens

barrens

/ˈbærənz/
plural noun
1.
(sometimes sing) (in North America) a stretch of usually level land that is sparsely vegetated or 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 barrens

barren

adj.

c.1200, from Old French 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. Of land in English from late 14c. As a noun, mid-13c., "a barren woman;" later of land.

BARRENS. Elevated lands, or plains upon which grow small trees, but never timber. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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barrens 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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barrens 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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9
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