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See also: barbarían


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From Middle English barbarian, borrowed from Medieval Latin barbarinus (Berber, pagan, foreigner), from Latin barbaria (foreign country), from barbarus (foreigner, savage), from Ancient Greek βάρβαρος (bárbaros, foreign, non-Greek, strange), possibly onomatopoeic (mimicking foreign languages, akin to English blah blah). Cognate to Sanskrit बर्बर (barbara, barbarian, non-Aryan, stammering, blockhead).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /bɑː(ɹ).ˈbɛə.ɹi.ən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /bɑɹ.ˈbɛəɹ.i.ən/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛəɹiən


barbarian (not comparable)

  1. Relating to people, countries, or customs perceived as uncivilized or inferior.




barbarian (plural barbarians)

  1. (historical) A non-Greek or a non-Roman citizen.
  2. An uncivilized or uncultured person, originally compared to the hellenistic Greco-Roman civilisation; often associated with fighting or other such shows of strength.
  3. (derogatory) A person destitute of culture; a Philistine.
    • 1725, Anthony Blackwall, The Sacred Classics Defended And Illustrated:
      Shall a noble writer, and an inspired noble writer, be called a solecist, and barbarian, for giving a new turn to a word so agreeable to the analogy and genius of the Greek tongue?
  4. (derogatory) Someone from a developing country or backward culture.
  5. A warrior, clad in fur or leather, associated with sword and sorcery stories.
  6. A cruel, savage, inhumane, brutal person; one without pity or empathy.
  7. (derogatory) A foreigner, especially with barbaric qualities as in the above definitions.



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