bark (v.1) Look up bark at
"utter an abrupt, explosive cry" (especially of dogs), Middle English berken (c. 1200), bark (late 15c.), from Old English beorcan "to bark," from Proto-Germanic *berkan (source also of Old Norse berkja "to bark"), of echoic origin. Related: Barked; barking. To bark at the moon "complain uselessly" is from 1650s. To bark up the wrong tree "mistake one's object, attack or pursue something other than what is intended" is U.S. colloquial, first attested 1832, from notion of hounds following the wrong scent.
barkeep (n.) Look up barkeep at
"one who has charge of a bar in a tavern, etc.," 1846, probably short for barkeeper (1712); from bar (n.2) + agent noun of keep (v.).
barker (n.) Look up barker at
late 14c., "a dog;" late 15c., "noisy fellow;" agent noun from bark (v.). Specific sense of "loud assistant in an auction, store, or show" is from 1690s.
barley (n.) Look up barley at
hardy cereal plant, Old English bærlic, apparently originally an adjective, "of barley," from bere "barley" (from Proto-Germanic *bariz, *baraz) + -lic "body, like." First element is related to Old Norse barr "barley," and cognate with Latin far (genitive farris) "coarse grain, meal;" probably from PIE root *bhars- "bristle, point, projection" (see bristle (n.)).
barleycorn (n.) Look up barleycorn at
"barley," late 14c., from barley + corn (n.1). Perhaps to distinguish the barley plant or the grain from its products. In Britain and U.S., the grain is used mainly to prepare liquor, hence personification of malt liquor as John Barleycorn (1620) in popular ballads, and many now-obsolete figures of speech, such as to wear a barley cap (16c.) "to be drunk."
barm (n.) Look up barm at
Old English beorma "yeast, leaven," also "head of a beer," from Proto-Germanic *bhermen- "yeast" (source also of Dutch berm, Middle Low German barm), from suffixed form of PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn."
barmaid (n.) Look up barmaid at
"woman who tends a bar," 1650s, from bar (n.2) + maid.
barman (n.) Look up barman at
"man who tends a bar," 1837, from bar (n.2) + man (n.).
barmy (adj.) Look up barmy at
1530s, "frothing, covered with barm;" see barm + -y (2). Figurative sense of "excited, flighty, bubbling with excitement" is from c. 1600. Meaning "foolish" (1892) is probably an alteration of balmy (q.v.).
barn (n.) Look up barn at
"covered building for the storage of farm produce," Old English bereærn "barn," literally "barley house," from bere "barley" (see barley) + aern "house," metathesized from *rann, *rasn (source also of Old Norse rann "large house," Gothic razn "house," Old English rest "resting place"). For the formation, compare Old English sealtærn "saltworks," horsern "stable." In Anglo-Saxon England, barley was a primary grain crop.
Barley was not always the only crop grown as the data recovered at Bishopstone might suggest but it is always the most commonly represented, followed by wheat and then rye and oats. [C.J. Arnold, "An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms," 1988, p.36]
Another word for "barn" in Old English was beretun, "barley enclosure" (from tun "enclosure, house"), which accounts for the many Barton place names on the English map, and the common surname. Applied from early 18c. to any large, barn-like building. Barn door has been used figuratively for "broad target" since 1670s and "great size" since 1540s. Barn-owl attested by 1670s. Barn-raising "a collective effort by neighbors or community members to erect the frame of a barn for one of them, accompanied by a social gathering" is attested by 1849.
Barn-burner (n.) Look up Barn-burner at
also barnburner, by 1844, American English, a member of the more progressive faction of the New York Democratic Party (opposed to the Hunkers); the nickname is an allusion to the old story of the farmer who, to rid his barn of rats, burned it down.
barn-yard (n.) Look up barn-yard at
also barnyard, 1510s, from barn + yard (n.1). Figurative of coarse or uncivilized behavior from 1920.
The very speeches in which Jefferson and Lincoln spoke of their hope for the future are incomprehensible to most of the voters of that future, since the vocabulary and syntax of the speeches are more difficult--more obscure--than anything the voters have read or heard. For when you defeat me in an election simply because you were, as I was not, born and bred in a log cabin, it is only a question of time until you are beaten by someone whom the pigs brought up out in the yard. The truth that all men are politically equal, the recognition of the injustice of fictitious differences, becomes a belief in the fictitiousness of differences, a conviction that it is reaction or snobbishness or Fascism to believe that any individual differences of real importance can exist. [Randall Jarrell, "The Obscurity of Poetry," 1953]
Barnabas Look up Barnabas at
surname of Joseph the Levite of Cyprus (Acts iv.36), literally "son of exhortation," from Aramaic (Semitic) bar "son" + nabha "prophecy, exhortation." St. Barnabas' Day (colloquially St. Barnaby), June 11, in the Old Style calendar was reckoned the longest day of the year (Barnaby the Bright).
barnacle (n.) Look up barnacle at
early 14c., bernak; earlier in Anglo-Latin, bernekke, early 13c., "species of northern European wild goose;" as a type of "shellfish" found in clusters on submerged wood, first recorded 1580s. Of unknown origin despite intense speculation.

The earliest form looks like "bare neck," and one of the Middle English synonyms was balled cote, but this might be folk etymology. Often said to be from a Celtic source (compare Breton bernik, a kind of shellfish), but the application to the goose predates that of the shellfish, and the word seems to have arisen in English. The goose nests in the Arctic in summer and returns to Europe in the winter, hence the mystery surrounding its reproduction. It was believed in ancient superstition (and as recently as late 17c.) to hatch or develop from the barnacle's shell, possibly because the crustacean's feathery stalks resemble goose down. The scientific name of the crustacean, Cirripedes, is from Greek cirri "curls of hair" + pedes "feet." Meaning "person holding tenaciously to an office or position, useless or incompetent jobholder" is from c. 1600.
Barnard Look up Barnard at
masc. proper name of Germanic origin, literally "Bear-bold;" see bear (n.) + hard (adj.). In Old French Bernart, in German Bernard.
barney (n.) Look up barney at
British slang word of uncertain origin, attested from 1859 as "lark, spree, rough enjoyment," 1864 as "noisy dispute," 1865 as "a fixed prize-fight."
Barney Look up Barney at
masc. proper name, short for Barnaby (attested from 14c.; see Barnabas) or Barnard.
barnstorm (v.) Look up barnstorm at
"to 'take by storm' the barns that served as theaters in rural places where itinerant acting troupes typically performed," 1815, in reference to performances in upstate New York barns (usually featuring short action pieces to suit vulgar tastes); see barn + storm (v.). Extended 1896 to electioneering tours, 1928 to itinerant airplane pilots who performed stunts at fairs and races. Related: Barnstormed; barnstorming; barnstormer.
Barnum Look up Barnum at
surname taken as the type of excessive hype and promotion, by 1850s, from circus owner P.T. Barnum (1810-1891), described in OED as "a pushing American show-proprietor." The surname is from the place-name Barnham.
barometer (n.) Look up barometer at
1660s, from Greek baros "weight" (from suffixed form of PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy") + -meter. The name probably was coined (and certainly popularized) by English scientist Robert Boyle (1627-1691). The instrument was invented 1643 by Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli and was at first known as the Torricelli tube.
barometric (adj.) Look up barometric at
"pertaining to or indicated by a barometer," 1780, from barometer + -ic. The older word is barometrical (1660s).
baron (n.) Look up baron at
c. 1200, "a member of the nobility," also a low rank in the peerage, from Old French baron (nominative ber) "baron, nobleman, military leader, warrior, virtuous man, lord, husband," probably from or related to Late Latin baro "man" (source of Spanish varon, Italian barone), which is of uncertain origin. It is perhaps from Celtic or from Frankish *baro "freeman, man" or another Germanic source. In England the word merged with (probably) cognate Old English beorn "nobleman."
baroness (n.) Look up baroness at
"wife of a baron; lady holding a baronial title," early 15c., from Old French barnesse "lady of quality, noblewoman" (also, ironically, "woman of low morals, slut") or Medieval Latin baronissa (see baron).
baronet (n.) Look up baronet at
c. 1400, diminutive of baron with -et. Originally a younger or lesser baron; established 1611 as a titled hereditary order. Related: Baronetcy; baronetess.
baronial (adj.) Look up baronial at
"pertaining to a baron or barony," 1741; see baron + -ial.
barony (n.) Look up barony at
c. 1300, "domain of a baron," from Old French baronie "assembly of barons, qualities of a baron," from Late Latin *baronia, from baro (see baron).
baroque (adj.) Look up baroque at
"style of architecture and decoration which prevailed in Europe late 17c. through much of 18c., later derided as clumsy in form and extravagant in contorted ornamentation," 1765, from French baroque "irregular" (15c.), said to be from Portuguese barroco "imperfect pearl," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Spanish berruca "a wart."
This style in decorations got the epithet of Barroque taste, derived from a word signifying pearls and teeth of unequal size. [Fuseli's translation of Winkelmann, 1765]
The Spanish word is perhaps from Latin verruca "a steep place, a height," hence "a wart," also "an excrescence on a precious stone" (see verruca). But Klein suggests the name may be from Italian painter Federico Barocci (1528-1612), whose work influenced the style. How to tell baroque from rococo, according to Fowler: "The characteristics of baroque are grandeur, pomposity, and weight; those of rococo are inconsequence, grace, and lightness." But the two terms have been used without distinction for styles featuring odd and excessive ornamentation.
barouche (n.) Look up barouche at
type of large, four-wheeled carriage, 1801, from dialectal German barutsche, from Italian baroccio "chariot," originally "two-wheeled car," from Latin birotus "two-wheeled," from bi- "two" (from PIE root *dwo- "two") + rotus "wheel," from rotare "go around" (see rotary). Frenchified in English, but the word is not French.
barque (n.) Look up barque at
variant of bark (n.2).
barrack (n.) Look up barrack at
1680s, "temporary hut for soldiers during a siege," from French barraque, from Spanish barraca (mid-13c. in Medieval Latin) "soldier's tent," literally "cabin, hut," a word of unknown origin. Perhaps from Celt-Iberian or Arabic. Meaning "permanent building for housing troops" (usually in plural) is attested from 1690s.
barracks (n.) Look up barracks at
plural, and usual, form of barrack (q.v.).
barracuda (n.) Look up barracuda at
lare voracious fish of the West Indies and Florida, 1670s, barracoutha, from American Spanish barracuda, which is perhaps from a Carib word.
barrage (n.) Look up barrage at
1859, "action of barring; man-made barrier in a stream" (for irrigation, etc.), from French barrer "to stop," from barre "bar," from Old French barre (see bar (n.1)). Artillery sense is 1916, from World War I French phrase tir de barrage "barrier fire" intended to isolate the objective. As a verb by 1917. Related: Barraged; barraging.
barratry (n.) Look up barratry at
early 15c., "sale of ecclesiastical or state offices," from Old French baraterie "deceit, guile, trickery," from barat "malpractice, fraud, deceit, trickery," which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Celtic. In marine law, "wrongful conduct by a ship's crew or officer, resulting in loss to owners," from 1620s.

Meaning "offense of habitually starting legal suits" is from 1640s. The sense has been somewhat confused with that of Middle English baratri "combat, fighting" (c. 1400), from Old Norse baratta "fight, contest strife." This was an active word in Middle English, with forms such as baraten "to disturb the peace" (mid-15c.); baratour "inciter to riot, bully" (late 14c., mid-13c. as a surname).

Barataria Bay, Louisiana, U.S., is from Spanish baratear "to cheat, deceive," cognate of the French word; the bay so called in reference to the difficulty of its entry passages.
barre (adj.) Look up barre at
1876, in reference to chords played on a guitar, etc., with the forefinger pressed across all strings to raise the pitch, from French barré "bar" (see bar (n.1)).
barrel (v.) Look up barrel at
mid-15c., "to put in barrels," from barrel (n.). Meaning "to move quickly" is 1930, American English slang, perhaps suggestive of a rolling barrel. Related: Barreled; barreling.
barrel (n.) Look up barrel at
"cylindrical vessel or cask, generally bulging in the middle and made of wooden staves bound by hoops," c. 1300, from Old French baril "barrel, cask, vat" (12c.), with cognates in all Romance languages (Italian barile, Spanish barril, etc.), but of unknown origin. Also a measure of capacity of varying quantity. Meaning "metal tube of a gun" is from 1640s. Barrel-roll (n.) in aeronautics is from 1920.
barrelful (n.) Look up barrelful at
late 14c., from barrel (n.) + -ful.
barrelhouse (n.) Look up barrelhouse at
"cheap saloon, often with an associated brothel," by 1875, American English, so called in reference to the barrels of beer or booze typically stacked along the wall. See barrel (n.) + house (n.).
Q. What was this place you rented? -- A. It was a room adjoining a barrel-house.
Q. What is a barrel house? -- A. It is a room where barrels of whisky are tapped, a very inferior kind of whisky, and the whisky is sold by the glassful right out of the barrel. It is a primitive coffee house. [Committee Report of the 43rd Congress, Select Committee on Conditions of the South, 1874-75]
barren (adj.) Look up barren at
c. 1200, "incapable of producing its kind" (of female animals, plants), from Old French baraigne, baraing "sterile, barren" (12c.), perhaps originally brahain, of obscure derivation, perhaps from a Germanic language. Use in reference to males is rare. Of land, "producing little or no vegetation," late 14c.

As a noun, mid-13c., "a barren woman;" later "tract of more or less unproductive land."
BARRENS. Elevated lands, or plains upon which grow small trees, but never timber. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]
barrenness (n.) Look up barrenness at
late 14c., "incapacity for child-bearing" (of women); "unproductivity, unfruitfulness" (of land); earlier in a figurative sense ("spiritual emptiness," mid-14c.), from barren + -ness.
barret (n.) Look up barret at
type of flat cap, 1828, from French barrette, cognate with Spanish birreta, Italian beretta (see biretta).
barrette (n.) Look up barrette at
"bar clip for women's hair," 1901, from French barrette, diminutive of barre "bar" (see bar (n.1)).
barricade (n.) Look up barricade at
"hastily made fortification for defense or to obstruct the progress of an enemy," 1640s, from Middle French barricade, from Spanish barricada, literally "made of barrels," from barrica "barrel," from barril (see barrel (n.)). Earlier was barricado (1580s) with false Spanish ending (see -ado). Revolutionary associations began during 1588 Huguenot riots in Paris, when large barrels filled with earth and stones were set up in the streets. Related: Barricades.
barricade (v.) Look up barricade at
"to obstruct with a barricade," 1590s, from barricade (n.). Related: Barricaded; barricading.
barrier (n.) Look up barrier at
"anything meant to obstruct entrance," early 14c., barere, from Anglo-French barrere, Old French barriere "obstacle, gatekeeper," from barre "bar" (see bar (n.1)). First record of barrier reef is from 1805.
barring (n.) Look up barring at
late 14c., "act of fastening with a bar," verbal noun from bar (v.). Meaning "exclusion" is from 1630s. As a preposition, "excepting, excluding," it is from late 15c. Schoolhouse prank of barring out the teacher was in use by 1728.
barrio (n.) Look up barrio at
1841, "ward of a Spanish or Spanish-speaking city," sometimes also used of rural settlements, from Spanish barrio "district, suburb," from Arabic barriya "open country" (fem.), from barr "outside" (of the city). Sense of "Spanish-speaking district in a U.S. city" (1939); originally is in reference to Spanish Harlem in New York City.
barrister (n.) Look up barrister at
"one practicing as an advocate in English courts of law," 1540s, from bar (n.3) in the legal sense + -ster. Also see attorney. The middle element is obscure. Related: Barristerial.
barrow (n.1) Look up barrow at
"flat, rectangular frame with projecting handles for carrying a load," c. 1300, barewe, probably from an unrecorded Old English *bearwe "basket, barrow," from beran "to bear, to carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." The original (hand-barrow) had no wheel and required two persons to carry it.