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the abrupt, harsh, explosive cry of a dog.
a similar sound made by another animal, as a fox.
a short, explosive sound, as of firearms:
the bark of a revolver.
a brusque order, reply, etc.:
The foreman’s bark sent the idlers back to their machines.
a cough.
(of a dog or other animal) to utter an abrupt, explosive cry or a series of such cries.
to make a similar sound:
The big guns barked.
to speak or cry out sharply or gruffly:
a man who barks at his children.
Informal. to advertise a theater performance, carnival sideshow, or the like, by standing at the entrance and calling out to passersby.
to cough.
to utter in a harsh, shouting tone:
barking orders at her subordinates.
bark at the moon, to protest in vain:
Telling her that she’s misinformed is just barking at the moon.
bark up the wrong tree, to assail or pursue the wrong person or object; misdirect one’s efforts:
If he expects me to get him a job, he’s barking up the wrong tree.
the external covering of the woody stems, branches, and roots of plants, as distinct and separable from the wood itself.
Tanning. a mixture of oak and hemlock barks.
candy, usually of chocolate with large pieces of nuts, made in flat sheets.
to rub off or scrape the skin of, as by bumping into something:
to bark one’s shins.
to remove a circle of bark from; girdle.
to cover, enclose, or encrust with or as if with bark.
to treat with a bark infusion; tan.
to strip the bark from; peel.
Contemporary Examples

“Osama bin Laden was not in New Orleans,” he barked into the phone.
The Key to Being a Leader During Crisis? Break the Rules Eleanor Clift October 9, 2013

Early in the aughts, Wall Street whistled, and neither Clinton nor de Blasio barked.
When Dems Loved Wall Street Lloyd Green January 5, 2014

While Forde barked orders, Bush, 36, was the tall triggerman in blackface.
Death Sentence for Arizona Child Killer Terry Greene Sterling April 6, 2011

And since Tello was no longer around, there would be no barked alarm to warn of intruders.
My Parents’ Brothel Douglas Rogers December 5, 2009

Coolio and Greg Brady (Barry Williams) are barked at by military training officers.
‘Splash’ and Nine Other Odd Celebrity Reality Competitions (VIDEO) Kevin Fallon March 18, 2013

Historical Examples

The spaniel, resentment forgotten, danced excitedly beside him and barked continuously.
Dope Sax Rohmer

She danced around in such excitement that Fritz barked wildly.
The Little Colonel Annie Fellows Johnston

He barked at other dogs who came too near, and showed that he meant to defend the little girls at all risks.
The Nursery, Volume 17, No. 101, May, 1875 Various

He swam part of the time and ran and barked on the towpath the other part.
W. A. G.’s Tale Margaret Turnbull

As he approached it, two or three mongrel curs ran out and barked vociferous defiance, but he did not heed them.
The Marriage of Esther Guy Boothby

the loud abrupt usually harsh or gruff cry of a dog or any of certain other animals
a similar sound, such as one made by a person, gun, etc
his bark is worse than his bite, he is bad-tempered but harmless
(intransitive) (of a dog or any of certain other animals) to make its typical loud abrupt cry
(intransitive) (of a person, gun, etc) to make a similar loud harsh sound
to say or shout in a brusque, peremptory, or angry tone: he barked an order
(US, informal) to advertise (a show, merchandise, etc) by loudly addressing passers-by
(informal) bark up the wrong tree, to misdirect one’s attention, efforts, etc; be mistaken
a protective layer of dead corky cells on the outside of the stems of woody plants
any of several varieties of this substance that can be used in tanning, dyeing, or in medicine
an informal name for cinchona
verb (transitive)
to scrape or rub off skin, as in an injury
to remove the bark or a circle of bark from (a tree or log)
to cover or enclose with bark
to tan (leather), principally by the tannins in barks
a variant spelling (esp US) of barque

“tree skin,” c.1300, from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse borkr “bark,” from Proto-Germanic *barkuz, which probably is related to birch and Low German borke. The native word was rind.

“any small ship,” early 15c., from Middle French barque (15c.), from Late Latin barca (c.400 C.E.), probably cognate with Vulgar Latin *barica (see barge). More precise sense of “three-masted ship” (17c.) often is spelled barque to distinguish it.

dog sound, Old English beorc, from bark (v.). Paired and compared with bite (n.) since at least 1660s; the proverb is older: “Timid dogs bark worse than they bite” was in Latin (Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet, Quintius Curtius).

in reference to a dog sound, Old English beorcan “to bark,” from Proto-Germanic *berkanan (cf. Old Norse berkja “to bark”), of echoic origin. Related: Barked; barking. To bark up the wrong tree is U.S. colloquial, first attested 1832, from notion of hounds following the wrong scent.
The protective outer covering of the trunk, branches, and roots of trees and other woody plants. Bark includes all tissues outside the vascular cambium. In older trees, bark is usually divided into inner bark, consisting of living phloem, and outer bark, consisting of the periderm (the phelloderm, cork cambium, and cork) and all the tissues outside it. The outer bark is mainly dead tissue that protects the tree from heat, cold, insects, and other dangers. The appearance of bark varies according to the manner in which the periderm forms, as in broken layers or smoother rings. Bark also has lenticels, porous corky areas that allow for the exchange of water vapor and gases with the interior living tissues.

bark is worse than one’s bite, one’s
bark up the wrong tree


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  • Barker

    an animal or person that barks. a person who stands before a theater, carnival sideshow, or the like, calling out its attractions to passers-by. a person or thing that removes bark from trees. a person or thing that prepares bark for tanning. Contemporary Examples Despite all the tabloid drama over the years, barker and Moakler […]

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