Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

barrier - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun [countable]     barrier pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    a bar or gate that stops people or vehicles from entering a place

    Fans broke through the barriers and rushed onto the pitch.

    1. a.
      something that separates one thing from another

      The river is the last barrier between the rebel army and the city.

  2. 2
    anything that prevents progress or makes it difficult for someone to achieve something

    These regulations would place barriers in the way of genetic research.

    barrier to:

    Disability need not be a barrier to a successful career.

    High levels of debt are a major barrier to economic development.

    1. a.
      something that prevents people from communicating, working together etc

      Language differences did not appear to be a barrier.

      break down barriers:

      We’re trying to break down barriers between young people from both communities.

    2. b.
      a number, limit, or level that is considered important because it is difficult to go past
      go through/break a barrier:

      the day the stock market broke the 10,000 barrier

      The figure for inflation could go through the 5 per cent barrier.



a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play