Definition of barbarous in English:



  • 1Savagely cruel; exceedingly brutal.

    ‘many early child-rearing practices were barbarous by modern standards’
    • ‘By failing to provide a context for terrorism, the media portrayed terrorists as irrational and barbarous.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Just curious - can I call them barbarous savages now?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In imperial literature British rule meant law and British force signified the protection of the weak against a barbarous bully.’
    • ‘Even today, Haitian occupation is portrayed as cruel and barbarous.’
    • ‘Yes it is brutal, savage and barbarous - but I have so much respect for the bravery of heavyweight boxers.’
    • ‘It was so barbarous and inhumane that polite Romans did not talk about it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Those who commit barbarous and inhuman acts are very far from the spirit of Islam.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘These horrific and barbarous attacks on civilians overnight in Casablanca demonstrated a callous disregard for all human life, regardless of nationality,’ he said.’
    • ‘But even then - I don't think many Barbeloids would disagree that fox hunting is a cruel, barbarous anachronism.’
    • ‘You non-vegetarians are barbarous murderers, but please stop hurting our feelings by challenging the wisdom of a vegetarian diet!’
    • ‘Such things never appear to bother Albert, the consummate technician, who dissociates himself psychically from the violent, barbarous act.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
    • ‘The rites that he practised were of an uncouth, barbarous, and unusual nature.’
    • ‘‘The more civilized his object, the more barbarous the worker,’ Marx wrote.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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!’’
    • ‘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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I don't think it needs to be described in that barbarous language, which has become infected by that awful poltroon, Foucault.’
      • ‘Full of zesty barbarous language and wordplay, it reminds me of why Wilde is so revered.’
      • ‘For many people in England and elsewhere, the terms Anglo-English, England English, and English English are tautologous and barbarous.’
      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.