Definition of barberry in English:



  • A spiny shrub which typically has yellow flowers and red berries, frequently grown for ornamental hedging.

    Genus Berberis, family Berberidaceae: many species

    • ‘They had us taste one of the delicious syrups they made and bottled last summer, and Susanne brought out a jar of her Aprikose Berberitze jam, made with apricot and barberries.’
    • ‘When plants such as barberry, grapevine, ornamental grasses, and smoke bush are in their full glory, they create a garden's final drama of the year.’
    • ‘I substitute dried cherries or cranberries for barberries.’
    • ‘Plants such as privet or barberry need severe pruning immediately after planting and at the beginning of the second year to make them bushy.’
    • ‘Using a relatively simple method to fight a potentially deadly problem, Union Pacific will plant hundreds of prickly rose bushes and barberries along its North Line this week to prevent trespassers from crossing its tracks.’
    • ‘We cut through the Japanese barberry with clippers to get to a wet area.’
    • ‘Although the California fan palm is the major attraction, another rarity is the Kofa barberry, a three-foot-tall shrub known only from the Kofa Mountains and from the Ajo Mountains, farther south.’
    • ‘Swirling robins and starlings competed for the red berries of the barberry and the blue berries of the privet.’
    • ‘Grow thorny plants like agave, barberry, cactus, Natal plum, and yucca under rear windows.’
    • ‘Dwarf barberry has reddish-purple foliage in sun.’
    • ‘As Graham stood on the top of the wooden step ladders, trimming away at the box, and the barberry that tangled into it, he glanced down at the cat.’
    • ‘They are also attracted by the berries on the holly and some of the dogwoods and barberries around the yard, as well as the flowers with seedpods that I left for them in the main garden.’
    • ‘Others feature one or several of tomatoes, garlic, barberries, grapes, pomegranates, and yoghurt.’
    • ‘And then there are the usual green plants with red berries such as hollies and barberry, and old garden roses with showy hips.’
    • ‘Branches of viburnum, holly, and barberry offer architectural grace notes and still other means for signaling the season.’
    • ‘The barberry bushes have bright red little berries for all the world like Redhot candies.’
    • ‘Evans sees tree of heaven and Japanese barberry, garlic mustard and stilt grass invading the heart of the forest.’
    • ‘At three o'clock Gates served dinner: onion soup followed by breast of veal delicately flavoured with nutmeg and garnished with barberries and slices of lemon.’
    • ‘Along the lakefront a curving sweep of barberry and daylilies terminated at gazebos overarched by old apple and willow trees.’
    • ‘Rugged shrubs like barberry and potentilla give the garden permanent structure, while the rocks help protect the plants from searing winds and keep the soil from drying out.’


Late Middle English: from Old French berberis (see berberis). The change in the ending was due to association with berry.