1. a barbarous or uncivilized state or condition.
  2. a barbarous act; something belonging to or befitting a barbarous condition.
  3. the use in a language of forms or constructions felt by some to be undesirably alien to the established standards of the language.
  4. such a form or construction: Some people consider “complected” as a barbarism.


  1. a brutal, coarse, or ignorant act
  2. the condition of being backward, coarse, or ignorant
  3. a substandard or erroneously constructed or derived word or expression; solecism
  4. any act or object that offends against accepted taste

mid-15c., “uncivilized or rude nature,” from French barbarisme (13c.), from Latin barbarismus, from Greek barbarismos “foreign speech,” from barbarizein “to do as a foreigner does” (see barbarian). Only of speech in Greek, Latin, and French; sense extended in English to “uncivilized condition.”

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