Definitions

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

  • adj. Primitive in culture and customs; uncivilized.
  • adj. Lacking refinement or culture; coarse.
  • adj. Characterized by savagery; very cruel. See Synonyms at cruel.
  • adj. Marked by the use or occurrence of barbarisms in spoken or written language.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Not classical or pure.
  • adj. uncivilized, uncultured
  • adj. Like a barbarian, especially in sound; noisy, dissonant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Being in the state of a barbarian; uncivilized; rude; peopled with barbarians.
  • adj. Foreign; adapted to a barbaric taste.
  • adj. Cruel; ferocious; inhuman; merciless.
  • adj. Contrary to the pure idioms of a language.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Foreign; not classical or pure; abounding in barbarisms; of or pertaining to an illiterate people: applied to language, originally to languages which were not Greek or Latin. See barbarism.
  • Speaking a foreign language; foreign; outlandish: applied to people. [Archaic.] See barbarian, n., 1.
  • Characterized by or showing ignorance of arts and civilization; uncivilized; rude; wild; savage: as, barbarous peoples, nations, or countries; barbarous habits or customs.
  • Pertaining to or characteristic of barbarians; adapted to the taste of barbarians; barbaric; of outlandish character.
  • Cruel; ferocious; inhuman: as, barbarous treatment.
  • Harsh-sounding, like the speech of barbarians: as, wild and barbarous music.
  • Synonyms Barbarian, Barbarous, Barbaric (see barbarian); ruthless, brutal, fierce, bloody, savage, truculent.

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

  • adj. primitive in customs and culture
  • adj. (of persons or their actions) able or disposed to inflict pain or suffering

Etymologies

From Latin barbarus, from Greek barbaros, non-Greek, foreign; see barbarism.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin barbarus ("foreigner, savage"), from Ancient Greek βάρβαρος (barbaros, "foreign, strange"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In the times which we call barbarous, great benefices and abbeys were taxed in France to the third of their revenue.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • The specific atrocity of such spectacles -- unknown to the earlier ages which they called barbarous -- was due to the cold-blooded selfishness, the hideous realism of a refined, delicate, æsthetic age.

    The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 03

  • So far as the essence of justice is concerned, there is no difference between one of the cases of punishment which you called barbarous, and one in which the penalty follows the offence within the hour.

    Dr. Heidenhoff's Process

  • Mark would not, and Prue could not, go to see the traveller off; the former being too angry to lend his countenance to what he termed a barbarous banishment, the latter, being half blind with crying, stayed to nurse Jessie, whose soft heart was nearly broken at what seemed to her the most direful affliction under heaven.

    Moods

  • A high degree of refinement, however, does not seem to subdue our wicked propensities so much after all; and were civilization itself to be estimated by some of its results, it would seem perhaps better for what we call the barbarous part of the world to remain unchanged.

    Typee

  • Page view page image: it would seem perhaps better for what we call the barbarous part of the world to remain unchanged.

    Narrative of a four months' residence among the natives of a valley of the Marquesas Islands, or, A peep at Polynesian life

  • A high degree of refinement, however, does not seem to subdue our wicked propensities so much after all; and were civilization itself to be estimated by some of it's results, it would seem perhaps better for what we call the barbarous part of the world to remain unchanged.

    Typee; a real romance of the South Seas

  • Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, decried what he called the "barbarous killing of two foreign workers" and denounced "this blind explosion of hatred."

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano condemned what he called the "barbarous killing of two foreign workers" and denounced "this blind explosion of hatred".

    WalesOnline - Home

  • Gold may be a barbarous relic, but in barbarous monetary times, relics do well.

    Gold Goes on a Print Run

Comments

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  • This word was used in "Breaker Morant" during the court martial.

    June 16, 2012