barbarian (adj.)

mid-14c., "foreign, of another nation or culture," from Medieval Latin barbarinus (see barbarian (n.)). The meaning "of or pertaining to savages, rude, uncivilized" is from 1590s.

Related entries & more 
barbarian (n.)

early 15c., in reference to classical history, "a non-Roman or non-Greek," earlier barbar (late 14c.) "non-Roman or non-Greek person; non-Christian; person speaking a language different from one's own," from Medieval Latin barbarinus (source of Old French barbarin "Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian"), from Latin barbarus "strange, foreign, barbarous," from Greek barbaros "foreign, strange; ignorant," from PIE root *barbar- echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (compare Sanskrit barbara- "stammering," also "non-Aryan," Latin balbus "stammering," Czech blblati "to stammer").

Greek barbaroi (plural noun) meant "all that are not Greek," but especially the Medes and Persians; originally it was not entirely pejorative, but its sense became moreso after the Persian wars. The Romans (technically themselves barbaroi) took up the word and applied it to tribes or nations which had no Greek or Roman accomplishments.

Also in Middle English (c. 1400) "native of the Barbary coast;" meaning "rude, wild person" is from 1610s. Occasionally in 19c. English distinguished from savage (n.) as being a step closer to civilization. Sometimes, in reference to Renaissance Italy, "a non-Italian." It also was used to translate the usual Chinese word of contempt for foreigners.

Barbarian applies to whatever pertains to the life of an uncivilized people, without special reference to its moral aspects. Barbarous properly expresses the bad side of barbarian life and character, especially its inhumanity or cruelty: as, a barbarous act. Barbaric expresses the characteristic love of barbarians for adornment, magnificence, noise, etc., but it is not commonly applied to persons: it implies the lack of cultivated taste .... [Century Dictionary, 1889]
Related entries & more 
barbarity (n.)

1560s, "want of civilization," from Latin barbarus (see barbarian (n.)) + -ity. The meaning "savage cruelty, inhuman conduct" is recorded from 1680s.

Related entries & more 
barbaric (adj.)

late 15c., "uncultured, uncivilized, unpolished," from French barbarique (15c.), from Latin barbaricus "foreign, strange, outlandish," from Greek barbarikos "like a foreigner," from barbaros "foreign, rude" (see barbarian (n.)). The meaning "pertaining to or characteristic of barbarians" is from 1660s. Related: Barbarically.

Related entries & more 
barbarous (adj.)

c. 1400, "uncivilized, uncultured, ignorant," from Latin barbarus "strange, foreign, barbarous," from Greek barbaros "foreign, uncivilized" (see barbarian (n.)). The meaning "not Greek or Latin" (of words or language) is from c. 1500; that of "savagely cruel" is from 1580s. Related: Barbarously; barbarousness.

Related entries & more 
barbarize (v.)

1640s, "speak or write like a barbarian," also "make barbarous," from Late Latin barbarizare, from Greek barbarizein "to do as a foreigner does," from barbaros "foreign, rude" (see barbarian (n.)). The meaning "corrupt a language by departing from standards" is from 1728. Related: Barbarized; barbarizing; barbarization.

Related entries & more 
gook (n.)

1899, U.S. military slang for "Filipino" during the insurrection there, probably from a native word, or imitative of the babbling sound of a strange language to American ears (compare barbarian). The term goo-goo eyes "soft, seductive eyes" was in vogue c. 1900 and may have contributed to this somehow. Extended over time to "Nicaraguan" (U.S. intervention there early 20c.), "any Pacific Islander" (World War II), "Korean" (1950s), "Vietnamese" and "any Asian" (1960s).

Related entries & more 

fem. proper name, from Latin, fem. of barbarus "strange, foreign, barbarous," from Greek barbaros (see barbarian (n.)). For women, unlike men, the concept of "alien" presumably could be felt as "exotic" and thus make an appealing name. Popularized as a Christian name by the legend of Saint Barbara, early 4c. martyr, whose cult flourished from 7c. The common Middle English form was Barbary. A top 10 name in popularity for girls born in the U.S. between 1927 and 1958.

Related entries & more 
barbarism (n.)

mid-15c., "uncivilized or rude nature, ignorance or want of culture," from French barbarisme "barbarism of language" (13c.), from Latin barbarismus, from Greek barbarismos "foreign speech," from barbarizein "to do as a foreigner does," from barbaros (see barbarian


 Only of speech in Greek, Latin, and French; the sense extension to "uncivilized condition" took place in English. It is in English from 1570s as "offense against purity or style of language" (originally the use of foreign words in Latin and Greek); the meaning "an expression or word not in accord with the proper usage of a language" is from 1580s.

Related entries & more 

c. 1300, "foreign lands" (especially non-Christian lands), from Latin barbaria "foreign country," from barbarus "strange, foreign" (see barbarian (n.)). The meaning "Saracen nations on coastal North Africa" is attested from 1590s, via French (Old French barbarie), from Arabic Barbar, Berber, ancient Arabic name for the inhabitants of North Africa beyond Egypt.

Perhaps a native name, perhaps an Arabic word, from barbara "to babble confusedly," but this might be ultimately from Greek barbaria. "The actual relations (if any) of the Arabic and Gr[eek] words cannot be settled; but in European langs. barbaria, Barbarie, Barbary, have from the first been treated as identical with L. barbaria, Byzantine Gr[eek] barbaria land of barbarians" [OED].

Related entries & more