a building for storing hay, grain, etc., and often for housing livestock.
a very large garage for buses, trucks, etc.; carbarn.
to store (hay, grain, etc.) in a barn.
a unit of nuclear cross section, equal to 10 −24 square centimeter.
Abbreviation: b.
Contemporary Examples

I have the boxed set of the first season in the barn somewhere.
Kirk Cameron of ‘Growing Pains’ Says He’s Not Homophobic, Explains Christian Beliefs Ramin Setoodeh March 19, 2012

Driving off in her Volvo shortly thereafter, she returned, unseen, parking near the barn where her body was later found.
New Questions Arise About Mary Richardson Kennedy’s Suicide Nancy Collins May 15, 2013

From the roof of the barn is a long loop of rope, through this the turkey is suspended by its legs.
Confessions of a Turkey Killer Tom Sykes November 25, 2014

He was born in a barn to penniless parents who were part of a people under occupation.
Jesus Wasn’t Born Rich. Think About It. Gene Robinson December 24, 2014

The grounds surrounding the ranch house and barn were in a state of disarray, with broken equipment strewn about.
The Murder Heating Up McCain’s Campaign Terry Greene Sterling March 31, 2010

Historical Examples

Why nadstow (hast thou not) pit the capul in the lathe (barn)?
The Romance of Names Ernest Weekley

Then it’s better to take him out back of the barn and shoot him, by Gad!
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson

At the door of his barn I paused and, not without some faint feeling of fear, knocked.
Abroad at Home Julian Street

And Will smiled back his gratification as they started for the barn.
The Raid From Beausejour; And How The Carter Boys Lifted The Mortgage Charles G. D. Roberts

When she reached the barn 62 people were filing up the broad stairs, and the room was already half full.
The Girl Scouts Rally Katherine Keene Galt

a large farm outbuilding, used chiefly for storing hay, grain, etc, but also for housing livestock
(US & Canadian) a large shed for sheltering railroad cars, trucks, etc
any large building, esp an unattractive one
(modifier) relating to a system of poultry farming in which birds are allowed to move freely within a barn: barn eggs
a unit of nuclear cross section equal to 10–28 square metre b

Old English bereærn “barn,” literally “barley house,” from bere “barley” (see barley) + aern “house,” metathesized from *rann, *rasn (cf. Old Norse rann, Gothic razn “house,” Old English rest “resting place;” sealtærn “saltworks”).

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. Barn door used figuratively for “broad target” and “great size” since 1540s.

Related Terms

someone can’t hit the side of a barn

a storehouse (Deut. 28:8; Job 39:12; Hag. 2:19) for grain, which was usually under ground, although also sometimes above ground (Luke 12:18).


can’t hit the broad side of a barn
lock the barn door after the horse is stolen


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