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[bar-ee-er] /ˈbær i ər/
anything built or serving to bar passage, as a railing, fence, or the like:
People may pass through the barrier only when their train is announced.
any natural bar or obstacle:
a mountain barrier.
anything that restrains or obstructs progress, access, etc.:
a trade barrier.
a limit or boundary of any kind:
the barriers of caste.
Physical Geography. an antarctic ice shelf or ice front.
barriers, History/Historical. the palisade or railing surrounding the ground where tourneys and jousts were carried on.
Archaic. a fortress or stockade.
Origin of barrier
1275-1325; Middle English < Middle French barriere (barre bar1 + -iere < Latin -āria -ary); replacing Middle English barrere < Anglo-French < Medieval Latin barrera
1. palisade, wall. 1–3. obstruction, hindrance, impediment. See bar1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for barrier
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was searching always for some feasible crossing, for his instinct led him always to get over any barrier.

    The Secret Trails Charles G. D. Roberts
  • In the midst of the barrier stood an altar, on the top of which was a brazen eagle.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • I recalled the perplexing fact that as we had driven into the town past the barrier, there had been no one on guard.

  • It is pride that sets a barrier between you and your companions.

  • So secured, it would be a barrier in the universal war of religion which he foresaw was soon to break out.

British Dictionary definitions for barrier


anything serving to obstruct passage or to maintain separation, such as a fence or gate
anything that prevents or obstructs passage, access, or progress: a barrier of distrust
anything that separates or hinders union: a language barrier
  1. an exposed offshore sand bar separated from the shore by a lagoon
  2. (as modifier): a barrier beach
(sometimes capital) that part of the Antarctic icecap extending over the sea
Word Origin
C14: from Old French barriere, from barrebar1
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 barrier

early 14c., barere, from Anglo-French barrere, Old French barriere "obstacle, gatekeeper," from barre "bar" (see bar (n.1)). First record of barrier reef is from 1805.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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barrier in Medicine

barrier bar·ri·er (bār'ē-ər)

  1. A structure, such as a fence, built to bar passage.

  2. A boundary or limit.

  3. An obstacle or impediment.

  4. Something that separates or holds apart.

  5. Something immaterial that obstructs or impedes behavior.

  6. A physical or biological factor that limits the migration, interbreeding, or free movement of individuals or populations.

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