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not producing or incapable of producing offspring; sterile:
a barren woman.
unproductive; unfruitful:
barren land.
without capacity to interest or attract:
a barren period in American architecture.
mentally unproductive; dull; stupid.
not producing results; fruitless:
a barren effort.
destitute; bereft; lacking (usually followed by of):
barren of tender feelings.
Usually, barrens. level or slightly rolling land, usually with a sandy soil and few trees, and relatively infertile.
Historical Examples

Its no proper for mere human being to be found in his condition out this far on the barrens, with no sign of how he came or why?
The Snow-Burner Henry Oyen

The ground we select is among the “barrens” before described.
The Western World W.H.G. Kingston

I threw down a handful of apple-seeds near the entrance of the active hill on the barrens.
Lippincott’s Magazine, Vol. 22, November, 1878 Various

T’ this the lad was listenin’ like a caribou o’ the barrens scentin’ peril.
Harbor Tales Down North Norman Duncan

It was none other than the trail of a weasel, probably the long-tailed variety, although that is rare in the barrens.
Everyday Adventures Samuel Scoville

Just half way across The barrens he has a house, which he calls ‘headquarters.’
Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman

In the barrens everywhere are paths that wind for miles in and out among the trees and along the edges of brooks and bogs.
Everyday Adventures Samuel Scoville

There were only two settlements in The barrens, and depots were to be erected there.
Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman

In my portfolio were sketches and studies of the barrens, and in my heart were hopes.
Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Various

After passing these barrens for more than a mile, we got sight of the Prairies.
Early Western Travels 1748-1846, Volume X Various

plural noun
(sometimes sing) (in North America) a stretch of usually level land that is sparsely vegetated or barren
incapable of producing offspring, seed, or fruit; sterile: a barren tree
unable to support the growth of crops, etc; unproductive; bare: barren land
lacking in stimulation or ideas; dull: a rather barren play
not producing worthwhile results; unprofitable: a barren period in a writer’s life
(foll by of) totally lacking (in); devoid (of): his speech was barren of wit
(of rock strata) having no fossils

c.1200, from Old French baraigne, baraing “sterile, barren” (12c.), perhaps originally brahain, of obscure derivation, perhaps from a Germanic language. In England, originally used of women, of land in France. Of land in English from late 14c. As a noun, mid-13c., “a barren woman;” later of land.

BARRENS. Elevated lands, or plains upon which grow small trees, but never timber. [Bartlett, “Dictionary of Americanisms,” 1848]

barren bar·ren (bār’ən)

Not producing offspring.

Incapable of producing offspring.

For a woman to be barren was accounted a severe punishment among the Jews (Gen. 16:2; 30:1-23; 1 Sam. 1:6, 27; Isa. 47:9; 49:21; Luke 1:25). Instances of barrenness are noticed (Gen. 11:30; 25:21; 29:31; Judg. 13:2, 3; Luke 1:7, 36).


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