Etymology
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barren (adj.)

c. 1200, "incapable of producing its kind" (of female animals, plants), from Old French baraigne, baraing "sterile, barren" (12c.), perhaps originally brahain, of obscure derivation, perhaps from a Germanic language. Use in reference to males is rare. Of land, "producing little or no vegetation," late 14c.

As a noun, mid-13c., "a barren woman;" later "tract of more or less unproductive land."

BARRENS. Elevated lands, or plains upon which grow small trees, but never timber. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]
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pine-barren (n.)

"level, sandy tract covered sparsely with pine trees," 1731, American-English, from pine (n.) + barren (n.).

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barrenness (n.)
late 14c., "incapacity for child-bearing" (of women); "unproductivity, unfruitfulness" (of land); earlier in a figurative sense ("spiritual emptiness," mid-14c.), from barren + -ness.
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fruitless (adj.)
mid-14c., "unprofitable," from fruit + -less. Meaning "barren, sterile" is from 1510s. Related: Fruitlessly; fruitlessness.
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geld (v.)
"to castrate," c. 1300, from Old Norse gelda "to castrate," said in Watkins to be from Proto-Germanic *galdjan "to castrate," from PIE *ghel- (3) "to cut." Related to other words which, if the derivation is correct, indicate a general sense of "barren." Compare Old Norse geld-fe "barren sheep" and geldr (adj.) "barren, yielding no milk, dry," which yielded Middle English geld "barren" (of women and female animals); also Old High German galt "barren," said of a cow. Related: Gelded; gelding.
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karoo (n.)
"barren table-land in South Africa," 1789, said to be from a Khoisan (Hottentot) word meaning "hard," or perhaps "desert."
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unfruitful (adj.)
late 14c., "barren," from un- (1) "not" + fruitful. Originally literal; figurative sense is attested from c. 1400. Related: Unfruitfully; unfruitfulness.
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sterile (adj.)

mid-15c., "barren," from Old French stérile "not producing fruit" and directly from Latin sterilis "barren, unproductive, unfruitful; unrequited; unprofitable," from PIE *ster- "lacking, sterile," source also of Sanskrit starih "a barren cow," Greek steira "sterile, infertile" (of a cow, goat, woman), Armenian sterj "infertile," perhaps ultimately from root *ster- (1) "stiff." Originally in English with reference to soil; of persons (chiefly females), from 1530s. The sense of "sterilized, free from living germs" is first recorded 1877.

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unproductive (adj.)

"not productive, barren, not making some specified effect or result," by 1690s, from un- (1) "not" + productive (adj.). Related: Unproductively; unproductiveness.

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gast (adj.)
"animal which does not produce in season," 1729, an East Anglian dialect word, perhaps from or related to Middle Dutch gast "barren soil."
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