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

  • n. Zoology A small barb or pointed projection, especially one of the small projections fringing the edges of the barbs of feathers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of the secondary barbs that form a fringe of small projections on a feather.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A very minute barb or beard.
  • n. One of the processes along the edges of the barbs of a feather, by which adjacent barbs interlock. See Feather.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small barb, as of a plant; a little beard. Also barbula.
  • n. In ornithology, one of a series of pointed, barb-like processes fringing the barbs of a feather.
  • n. The part of a helmet which protects the cheeks and chin.
  • n. In botany, the inner row of teeth in the peristome of certain mosses.


Latin barbula, diminutive of barba, beard; see bhardh-ā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • Through a common magnifying glass each tiny barbule was seen to be ringed with gray and silvery white, so finely that the rings could hardly be seen.

    In Nesting Time

  • Instead, if you were to slice a barbule like a loaf of bread, the resulting cross-section would be shaped like a boomerang.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • But the fact that the rachis itself is made of barbule-like fibres suggests that the barbules came first.

    ScienceBlogs Channel : Life Science

  • Plus, they aren’t located throughout the barbule but are more distal, or located more toward the end of the barbule.


  • “It’s the size, shape, number, and pigmentation of nodes and their placement along the barbule that are key,” he patiently explained.


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