Baron - barren

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Baron and barren form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these.. If you make a typing or spelling error, the spellchecker will not notice. Don't let it get away with this carelessness!

  • Baron is a hereditary title in the UK. A baron is basically the most junior among the Lords of this country. In the past, there have been times when the barons were an important and powerful group - in 1215, Magna Carta was largely produced as a result of demands that the barons made of King John.
  • The second of these homophones, barren, means "not fertile". It can be used literally - a childless woman can be called barren. So can any female animal that cannot produce live young, plants that have no fruit (gardeners should dig up a barren apple tree, because they will get no apples from it), and land that cannot bear crops. Many gardens have a barren patch. Barren can also be used figuratively - we can have barren conversations if they do not lead anywhere, or do not produce an idea worth having.

Unless you are studying in an historical context, you are more likely to need the spelling barren.