Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A member of a people considered by those of another nation or group to have a primitive civilization.
  • n. A fierce, brutal, or cruel person.
  • n. An insensitive, uncultured person; a boor. See Synonyms at boor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Relating to people, countries or customs perceived as uncivilized or inferior.
  • n. An uncivilized or uncultured person, originally compared to the hellenistic Greco-Roman civilisation; often associated with fighting or other such shows of strength.
  • n. Someone from a developing country or backward culture.
  • n. A warrior, clad in fur or leather, associated with Sword and Sorcery stories.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of, or pertaining to, or resembling, barbarians; rude; uncivilized; barbarous.
  • n. A foreigner.
  • n. A man in a rude, savage, or uncivilized state.
  • n. A person destitute of culture.
  • n. A cruel, savage, brutal man; one destitute of pity or humanity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A foreigner; one whose language and customs differ from those of the speaker or writer.
  • n. One outside the pale of Christian civilization.
  • n. A man in a rude, savage state; an uncivilized person.
  • n. An uncultured person; one who has no sympathy with culture; a philistine.
  • n. A cruel, savage, brutal person; one destitute of pity or humanity: as, “thou fell barbarian,”
  • n. [capitalized] A native of Barbary.
  • Foreign; of another or outside nation; hence, non-Hellenic, non-Roman, non-Christian, non-Chinese, etc.
  • Of or pertaining to savages; rude; uncivilized.
  • Cruel; inhuman; barbarous.
  • [capitalized] Of or belonging to Barbary.
  • n. A member of a barbarian people. See II., 5.
  • In anthropology, pertaining to a state of society in which descent is reckoned in the paternal line, and in which the members of the paternal family of all generations form an exogamous social unit called a gens.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement
  • adj. without civilizing influences
  • n. a member of an uncivilized people

Etymologies

French barbarien, from barbare, barbarous, from Latin barbarus; see barbarous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Medieval Latin barbarinus ("Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian"), from Latin barbaria ("foreign country"), from barbarus ("foreigner, savage"), from Ancient Greek βάρβαρος (barbaros, "foreign, strange"), onomatopoeic (mimicking foreign languages, akin to 'blah blah'). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Las Casas, however, turned the term barbarian against the civilizers.

    Bloodlust

  • He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive appellation.

    The History of the Peloponnesian War

  • He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive name.

    THE LANDMARK THUCYDIDES

  • Point of interest: Philip uses the term barbarian for a foreign king.

    American Chronicle

  • Obviously, in his later years, when he became king, necessity demanded he modify his ways, but as we witness in “Phoenix on the Sword,” the barbarian is always lurking just beneath the surface.

    The Triumph of Barbarism over Civilization « Gerry Canavan

  • A desperate new appeal by the president of Georgia to stop what he calls barbarian behavior by Russia.

    CNN Transcript Aug 14, 2008

  • The king's persistency in begging her not to veil so austerely a face which the gods had made for the admiration of men, his evident vexation upon her refusal to appear in Greek costume at the sacrifices and public solemnities, his unsparing raillery at what he termed her barbarian shyness, all tended to convince her that the young

    King Candaules

  • Ali blamed media reports of the conflict in Syria for inciting what he described as a "barbarian action" and "terrorism."

    USATODAY.com Feed

  • As to the jade and precious stones that were produced in "barbarian" territory, only these merchants risk crossing boundaries to purchase, putting their lives in danger to seek wealth and goods. 125

    Between Winds and Clouds: The Making of Yunnan (Second Century BCE to Twentieth Century CE)

  • Jowar and his men could only watch as the Princess and her strange companions, one obviously a barbarian from the north, entered the city.

    Archive 2009-12-01

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