- any of various erect annual temperate grasses of the genus Hordeum, esp H. vulgare, that have short leaves and dense bristly flower spikes and are widely cultivated for grain and forage
- the grain of any of these grasses, used in making beer and whisky and for soups, puddings, etc
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2019
- Plant Biologya cereal plant of the grass family.
- Food, Winethe grain of barley, used as food and in making beer and whiskey.
- a widely distributed cereal plant belonging to the genus Hordeum, of the grass family, having awned flowers that grow in tightly bunched spikes, with three small additional spikes at each node.
- Food, Winethe grain of this plant, used as food and in making beer, ale, and whiskey.
- European Indo-European * bHaer- spike, prickle, perh. akin to beard) + -līc -ly
- bef. 1000; Middle English; Old English bærlīc (adjective, adjectival), equivalent. to bær- (variant of bere barley; akin to Old Norse barr barley, Gothic barizeins made of barley, Serbo-Croatian brȁŝno flour, Latin far emmer; all
bar•ley2 (bär′lē),USA pronunciation n., pl. -leys. [Scot. and North Eng.]
- Scottish Termsa truce or quarter, esp. in children's games;
- Old Norse *býjarlagu, equivalent. to býjar genitive singular of býr town (compare bower1, byre) + *lagu law1; compare by-law
- probably to be identified with Scots barley, burley, birlie local customary law (Compare birleyman arbiter, birleycourt neighborhood court), variant of birlaw, Medieval Latin birlawe, birelegia, birelag 1805–15