Definition of barbarous in English:



  • 1Extremely brutal.

    ‘many early child-rearing practices were barbarous by modern standards’
    • ‘Acts of barbarous inhumanity are a grim reminder that, in the scheme of things, we are not much above wild animals.’
    • ‘Before Hitler's atrocities exposed the barbarous extremes of social engineering, eugenic views were regarded as radical visions of social reform.’
    • ‘Just curious - can I call them barbarous savages now?’
    • ‘Fossey saw local Rwandan people as barbarous, and went to extreme lengths to protect the gorillas, even killing villagers' cattle and firing guns at them.’
    • ‘You non-vegetarians are barbarous murderers, but please stop hurting our feelings by challenging the wisdom of a vegetarian diet!’
    • ‘Those who commit barbarous and inhuman acts are very far from the spirit of Islam.’
    • ‘Even today, Haitian occupation is portrayed as cruel and barbarous.’
    • ‘On the other side of the argument, people say that we have no right to kill foxes in the way that we do, and that fox-hunting is both cruel and barbarous.’
    • ‘It might be harder still for some of us who have known people of influence and respect, who participated in policies which we regard today as outdated, barbarous, cruel and racist.’
    • ‘‘If we do have to take military action, we do so in the sure knowledge that we are removing one of the most barbarous and detestable regimes in modern political history,’ he said.’
    • ‘In imperial literature British rule meant law and British force signified the protection of the weak against a barbarous bully.’
    • ‘Such things never appear to bother Albert, the consummate technician, who dissociates himself psychically from the violent, barbarous act.’
    • ‘But even then - I don't think many Barbeloids would disagree that fox hunting is a cruel, barbarous anachronism.’
    • ‘It was so barbarous and inhumane that polite Romans did not talk about it.’
    • ‘By failing to provide a context for terrorism, the media portrayed terrorists as irrational and barbarous.’
    • ‘Yes it is brutal, savage and barbarous - but I have so much respect for the bravery of heavyweight boxers.’
    • ‘First, in order to be initiated, a person has to bind himself, by the most cruel and barbarous oaths, never to reveal any of Masonry's secrets.’
    • ‘‘These horrific and barbarous attacks on civilians overnight in Casablanca demonstrated a callous disregard for all human life, regardless of nationality,’ he said.’
    • ‘I saw everything as a cruel, barbarous joke on me and I became cruel and barbarous so that I wouldn't be broken by it.’
    brutal, brutish, bestial, savage, vicious, fierce, ferocious, wicked, cruel, nasty, ruthless, remorseless, merciless, villainous, murderous, heinous, nefarious, monstrous, base, low, low-down, vile, inhuman, infernal, dark, black, black-hearted, fiendish, hellish, diabolical, ghastly, horrible
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  • 2Primitive and uncivilized.

    ‘a remote and barbarous country’
    • ‘But was it fair to call Africa barbarous and uncivilized, and to say that the slave traders were doing no harm by removing people from that continent?’
    • ‘Now suppose the Professor found the use of shells to be primitive and irrational - ‘a barbarous relic!’’
    • ‘Justice Higgins argued in 1915 that conciliation and arbitration would provide a new ‘province of law and order’ to replace ‘the rude and barbarous process of strike and lockout’.’
    • ‘He was repelled by the obscurity of its content and the barbarous style of the rather primitive version made by half-educated missionaries in the second century.’
    • ‘Or rather, did they strive to bring ‘civilization’ to the rude and barbarous peoples of the west and north?’
    • ‘‘The more civilized his object, the more barbarous the worker,’ Marx wrote.’
    • ‘The rites that he practised were of an uncouth, barbarous, and unusual nature.’
    • ‘As late as 1787, the English agricultural traveller Arthur Young was astonished to find many regions of France still dominated by ‘the common barbarous course’ of the three-field system.’
    • ‘Call me barbarous, call me ignorant, but at least I won't have this disturbing feeling that I'm helping someone make piles of money off whatever terrible event is unfolding at the moment.’
    savage, barbarian, primitive, heathen, wild, brutish, neanderthal
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    1. 2.1 (of language) coarse and unrefined.
      ‘avoiding barbarous sentences or ambiguities’
      • ‘I don't think it needs to be described in that barbarous language, which has become infected by that awful poltroon, Foucault.’
      • ‘Lithuanian was considered to be a barbarous language, unworthy of religious use, so Polish was used for all official religious business.’
      • ‘In the ears of the new French lords and their clerks, English had a barbarous sound, and there followed an onslaught on the old vernacular.’
      • ‘For many people in England and elsewhere, the terms Anglo-English, England English, and English English are tautologous and barbarous.’
      • ‘Full of zesty barbarous language and wordplay, it reminds me of why Wilde is so revered.’
      coarse, uncouth, rude, discourteous, impolite, ungentlemanly, unladylike, ill-bred, ill-mannered, churlish, gruff, uncivilized, uncultured, uncultivated, unsophisticated, unrefined, common, rough, thuggish, loutish
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Late Middle English (in barbarous (sense 2)): via Latin from Greek barbaros ‘foreign’ + -ous.