late 14c., "barb of an arrow," from Old French barbe "beard, beard-like appendage" (11c.), from Latin barba "beard," from Proto-Italic *farfa- "beard," which probably is cognate with Old English beard, from PIE root *bhardha- "beard" (see beard (n.)).
late 15c., "to clip, mow" (a sense now archaic or obsolete); see barb (n.). Meaning "to fit or furnish with barbs" is from 1610s. Related: Barbed; barbing.
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