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having barbs.
calculated to wound; cutting:
a professor noted for his barbed criticisms.
a point or pointed part projecting backward from a main point, as of a fishhook or arrowhead.
an obviously or openly unpleasant or carping remark.
Botany, Zoology. a hooked or sharp bristle.
Ornithology. one of the processes attached to the rachis of a feather.
one of a breed of domestic pigeons, similar to the carriers or homers, having a short, broad bill.
any of numerous, small, Old World cyprinid fishes of the genera Barbus and Puntius, often kept in aquariums.
Usually, barbs. Veterinary Pathology. a small protuberance under the tongue in horses and cattle, especially when inflamed and swollen.
Also, barbe. a linen covering for the throat and breast, formerly worn by women mourners and now only by some nuns.
Obsolete. a beard.
to furnish with a barb or barbs.
Contemporary Examples

This infrastructure will include a ten-foot-high, gray concrete wall, topped with barbed wire, which will ring the dormitories.
This Cairo College Campus Is Now a ‘Warzone’ Jonathan Krohn February 17, 2014

People left, and when they came back, the projects they were living in were boarded up, fenced in with barbed wire.
Spike Lee Returns to New Orleans on HBO Daily Beast Promotions August 18, 2010

Security at the compound was “extraordinary,” an official said, with 12- to 18-foot walls topped by barbed wire.
Obama Confirms Osama bin Laden’s Death Howard Kurtz May 1, 2011

But the barbed tone of their reprimands, their raised voices, made clear there was something else going on here.
Tears of Gaza: Why Context Matters Sigal Samuel September 24, 2012

Two parallel fences tipped with barbed wire formed a narrow corridor into the gymnasium.
The GOP’s Last Identity Crisis Remade U.S. Politics Michael Wolraich July 23, 2014

Historical Examples

On the other hand, Tom, with his heavy shaft and barbed point, relied on a single weapon.
Tropic Days E. J. Banfield

Why should you put up all this barbed wire between yourself and your friends?
The Market-Place Harold Frederic

There was plenty of barbed wire everywhere and by means of the wire cutters rude grates were made on which the tin cup was placed.
Springfield in the Spanish American War Walter W. Ward

Lines of trenches and coils of barbed wire arrest your attention.
War Letters of a Public-School Boy Paul Jones.

He told us that sharp, harsh, or bitter words entered his soul like barbed iron and he was upset and unstrung for hours afterward.
Analyzing Character Katherine M. H. Blackford and Arthur Newcomb

a subsidiary point facing in the opposite direction to the main point of a fish-hook, harpoon, arrow, etc, intended to make extraction difficult
any of various pointed parts, as on barbed wire
a cutting remark; gibe
any of the numerous hairlike filaments that form the vane of a feather
a beardlike growth in certain animals
a hooked hair or projection on certain fruits
any small cyprinid fish of the genus Barbus (or Puntius) and related genera, such as B. conchonius (rosy barb)
(usually pl) any of the small fleshy protuberances beneath the tongue in horses and cattle
a white linen cloth forming part of a headdress extending from the chin to the upper chest, originally worn by women in the Middle Ages, now worn by nuns of some orders
(obsolete) a beard
(transitive) to provide with a barb or barbs
a breed of horse of North African origin, similar to the Arab but less spirited
(Austral) a black kelpie See kelpie1
noun acronym (in Britain)
Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board

late 14c., “barb of an arrow,” from Old French barbe (11c.) “beard, beardlike appendage,” from Latin barba “beard,” perhaps cognate with Old English beard (see beard (n.)).

late 15c., “to clip, mow;” see barb (n.). Meaning “to fit or furnish with barbs” is from 1610s. Related: Barbed; barbing.

A sharp point projecting backward, as on the stinger of a bee.

One of the hairlike branches on the shaft of a feather.


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    concertina wire. wire with razor-sharp edges or projections, placed in coils as a barrier along the tops of fences or walls, as at a prison.

  • Barbed tributary

    a tributary that joins its mainstream in an upstream direction rather than in the more common downstream direction.

  • Barbed wire

    a wire or strand of wires having small pieces of sharply pointed wire twisted around it at short intervals, used chiefly for fencing in livestock, keeping out trespassers, etc. Contemporary Examples This infrastructure will include a ten-foot-high, gray concrete wall, topped with barbed wire, which will ring the dormitories. This Cairo College Campus Is Now […]

  • Barbell

    an apparatus used in weight-lifting, consisting of a bar with replaceable, disk-shaped weights fastened to the ends. Contemporary Examples Naomi then steadied herself in a wide leg stance in front of the barbell, propped at chest-height on a metal stand. Sandy Koufax 2.0 Zachary Fenster July 10, 2012 Historical Examples And the voice near his […]

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