- 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.
- the grain of this plant, used as food and in making beer, ale, and whiskey.
noun, plural bar·leys. Scot. and North England.
- a truce or quarter, especially in children’s games; parley.
- 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, etcSee also pearl barley
- dialect a cry for truce or respite from the rules of a game
Old English bærlic, originally an adjective, “of barley,” from bere “barley” (from Proto-Germanic *bariz, *baraz) + -lic “body, like.” First element is related to Old Norse barr “barley,” and cognate with Latin far (genitive farris) “coarse grain, meal;” probably from PIE *bhars- “bristle, point, projection” (see bristle (n.)).