Definitions

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

  • n. One, such as a dog, that makes a bark or a barking sound.
  • n. An employee who stands before the entrance to a show, as at a carnival, and solicits customers with a loud sales spiel.
  • n. One that removes bark from trees or logs or prepares it for tanning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Someone or something who barks.
  • n. A person employed to solicit customers by calling out to passersby, e.g. at a carnival.
  • n. A shelf-talker.
  • n. A video game mode where the action is demonstrated to entice someone to play the game.
  • n. A person that removes the bark from wood, or prepares it for use in tanning.
  • n. A machine used to remove the bark from wood.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An animal that barks; hence, any one who clamors unreasonably.
  • n. One who stands at the doors of shops to urg� passers by to make purchases.
  • n. A pistol.
  • n. The spotted redshank.
  • n. One who strips trees of their bark.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An animal that barks; a person who clamors unreasonably.
  • n. The spotted redshank, Totanus fuscus. Albin; Montagu.
  • n. A person stationed at the door of a house where auctions of inferior goods are held, to invite strangers to enter; a touter; a tout. [Cant.]
  • n. A pistol.
  • n. A lower-deck gun in a ship.
  • n. One who strips trees of their bark.
  • n. A tanner.

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

  • n. informal terms for dogs
  • n. someone who stands in front of a show (as at a carnival) and gives a loud colorful sales talk to potential customers

Etymologies

From bark ("(dog noise)") +‎ -er. (Wiktionary)
From bark ("(surface of tree)") +‎ -er. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "Anyone who uses the term 'barker' is betraying their ignorance," Baker said.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • Gradually it dawned on Bob that this man was acting in the capacity of "barker" -- that with quite admirable perspicacity and accuracy, he was engaged in selecting from the countless throngs the few possible purchasers for Lucky Lands.

    The Rules of the Game

  • Forensic investigators have been pouring over the parched ground of this so-called barker ranch.

    CNN Transcript Mar 17, 2008

  • However, Zigun -- who says he voted for Obama in 2008 and will probably support him again in 2012 -- does believe the President misspoke when he used the term "carnival barker."

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • Baker said he has a bone to pick with people who use the term "carnival barker" and admitted to being shocked when the President singled out his industry.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • So we believe that really this ABThera system will cannibalize what's called the barker system, which is really the standard of care for treating those patients today.

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  • I had many a friend among the villagers, both there and at Bangalang, and when the "barker" came from the Isles _de Loss_ with the news of my capture and misery, the settlement had been keenly astir until it was known that Mongo Téodore was safe and sound among his protectors.

    Captain Canot or, Twenty Years of an African Slaver

  • After three days 'parley I had just concluded my bargain with his breechless majesty, when a "barker" greeted me with the cheerless message that the "Aguila" was surrounded by man-of-war boats!

    Captain Canot or, Twenty Years of an African Slaver

  • The "puller-in" and the "barker" of Baxter Street and the Bowery are mere sucking doves compared with the vendors of Jerusalem: they will get in front of you and pull you into their shops, and the only way you can prevent an assault is to jump to the other side of the street or dive into an alley.

    A Fantasy of Mediterranean Travel

  • A 'barker' is a man who jumps onto a big tree after a chopper has felled it, and strips the bark off with his axe, so that the trunk can be easily hauled over the snow.

    Camp and Trail A Story of the Maine Woods

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Comments

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  • "An animal that barks; hence, any one who clamors unreasonably."
    -- GNU Webster's 1913

    September 21, 2012

  • Haven't heard that one, but I'm sure it comes from an extended meaning of #1. Though I don't often hear it as just "barker" by itself but "carnival barker."

    I think #3 and #4 are less explicable.

    August 28, 2009

  • Wouldn't say it was in wide use, Pro.

    Go on, I love hilarious misunderstandings.

    August 28, 2009

  • I'd call that a WeirdNet definition myself.

    August 28, 2009

  • Can anybody confirm WordNet #2? I'd like to avoid hilarious misunderstandings.

    August 28, 2009