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a. Not producing or incapable of producing offspring. Used of female animals.
b. Often Offensive Not producing or incapable of producing offspring. Used of women.
2. Not producing or incapable of producing fruit: barren trees.
3. Lacking vegetation, especially useful vegetation: barren tundra.
4. Unproductive of results or gains; unprofitable: "That icy winter silence—how it froze you from your bride, / Tho' I made one barren effort to break it at the last!" (Alfred Lord Tennyson). See Synonyms at futile.
5. Devoid of something specified: writing barren of insight.
6. Lacking in liveliness or interest: a barren routine.
often barrens A tract of unproductive land, often with a scrubby growth of trees.

[Middle English barreine, from Old French brahaigne, perhaps of Germanic origin.]

bar′ren·ly adv.
bar′ren·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


pl n
(Physical Geography) (sometimes singular) (in North America) a stretch of usually level land that is sparsely vegetated or barren
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in classic literature ?
The kingdom of Dancali, to which this belongs, is barren, and thinly peopled; the king is tributary to the Emperor of Abyssinia, and very faithful to his sovereign.
I climbed the barren mountain, And my gaze swept far and wide For the red-lit eaves of my father's home, And I fancied that he sighed: My son has gone for a soldier, For a soldier night and day; But my son is wise, and may yet return, When the drums have died away.
From Athens all through the islands of the Grecian Archipelago, we saw little but forbidding sea-walls and barren hills, sometimes surmounted by three or four graceful columns of some ancient temple, lonely and deserted--a fitting symbol of the desolation that has come upon all Greece in these latter ages.
The old wound opens again--and there I lie bleeding on the barren Shetland moor!
For nearly forty miles that they had explored, the river foamed and roared along through a deep and narrow channel, from twenty to thirty yards wide, which it had worn, in the course of ages, through the heart of a barren, rocky country.
On a nearer approach Barbicane found himself in view of a low, flat country of somewhat barren aspect.
"Ay," said Sancho; "it must be that some of your worship's shrewdness sticks to me; land that, of itself, is barren and dry, will come to yield good fruit if you dung it and till it; what I mean is that your worship's conversation has been the dung that has fallen on the barren soil of my dry wit, and the time I have been in your service and society has been the tillage; and with the help of this I hope to yield fruit in abundance that will not fall away or slide from those paths of good breeding that your worship has made in my parched understanding."
So omnipotent is art; which in many a district of New Bedford has superinduced bright terraces of flowers upon the barren refuse rocks thrown aside at creation's final day.
Philip of Macedon dreamed, he sealed up bis wife's belly; whereby he did expound it, that his wife should be barren; but Aristander the soothsayer, told him his wife was with child, because men do not use to seal vessels, that are empty.
Thou art now the very emblem of an old war-horse turned out on the barren heath thou hast had thy paces in thy time, but now a broken amble is the best of them Come, amble off with thee.''
Birds of this order I can show are the greatest wanderers, and are occasionally found on the most remote and barren islands in the open ocean; they would not be likely to alight on the surface of the sea, so that the dirt would not be washed off their feet; when making land, they would be sure to fly to their natural fresh-water haunts.
The country became more and more barren. In the valleys there was scarcely sufficient water for any irrigation; and the intermediate land was quite bare, not supporting even goats.