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]