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Informal. something that is highly exciting, impressive, etc.:
The All Stars game was a real barnburner.
Chiefly Pennsylvania. a wooden friction match.
(initial capital letter) a member of the progressive faction in the Democratic Party in New York State 1845–52.
Compare Hunker.
Contemporary Examples

But how many of you can honestly say you think that second Nixon term was just a barnburner?
McGovern’s Legacy Michael Tomasky October 21, 2012

They rely more on the strength of their ideas than barnburner narratives.
Iraq, Terror, and the Surreal: Hassan Blasim’s ‘The Corpse Exhibition’ Brian Van Reet March 8, 2014

Historical Examples

We cannot insist on a mission for him and the collectorship for a barnburner.
Letters and Literary Memorials of Samuel J. Tilden, v. 1 Samuel J. Tilden

It offered to admit the barnburner and Hunker delegations together to cast the vote of the State.
Martin Van Buren Edward M. Shepard


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