from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large farm building used for storing farm products and sheltering livestock.
  • n. A large shed for the housing of vehicles, such as railroad cars.
  • n. A particularly large, typically bare building: lived in a barn of a country house.
  • n. Physics A unit of area equal to 10-24 square centimeters, used to measure cross sections in nuclear physics.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A building, often found on a farm, used for storage or keeping animals such as cattle.
  • n. A unit of surface area equal to 10-28 square metres.
  • n. An arena.
  • n. A child.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A covered building used chiefly for storing grain, hay, and other productions of a farm. In the United States a part of the barn is often used for stables.
  • n. A child. See bairn.
  • transitive v. To lay up in a barn.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To store up in a barn.
  • n. A child.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an outlying farm building for storing grain or animal feed and housing farm animals
  • n. (physics) a unit of nuclear cross section; the effective circular area that one particle presents to another as a target for an encounter


Middle English bern, from Old English berærn : bere, barley.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English bern, from Old English bereærn 'barn, granary', compound of bere 'barley' and ærn, ræn 'dwelling, barn', from Proto-Germanic *raznan (cf. Old High German erin, Old Norse rann), from pre-Germanic *h₁rh̥₁-s-nó-, from Proto-Indo-European *h₁erh₁- 'to rest'. More at rest and barley. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English barn, bern, from Old English bearn ("child, son, offspring, prodigy") and Old Norse barn ("child"). More at bairn. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • A unit of area for measuring the reaction cross-section (generally different from the geometric cross-section) of atomic nuclei and subatomic particles in the study of their interactions with other nuclei or particles. A barn is equal to 10 to 24 square cm. The name, coined by U.S. scientists, is derived from the phrase "side of a barn"--something easy to hit.

    November 7, 2007