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 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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