If you bar a college student from entering a bar because he's too young to drink, it means that you prevent him from going into an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages.

Bar is one of those handy words with many different meanings. There's the kind of bar where you order coffee or a drink. There is also the bar that a bartender keeps close at hand in case she needs a weapon when patrons get rowdy — like a long piece of metal. And when you bar something, you make it inaccessible in some way. The word bar comes from the French word barre, which means "beam, gate, or barrier."

Primary Meanings of bar

a rigid piece of metal or wood; usually used as a fastening or obstruction or weapon
secure with, or as if with, bars
a counter where you can obtain food or drink
the act of preventing
render unsuitable for passage
(meteorology) a unit of pressure equal to a million dynes per square centimeter
musical notation for a repeating pattern of musical beats
the body of individuals qualified to practice law in a particular jurisdiction
Full Definitions of bar

n a rigid piece of metal or wood; usually used as a fastening or obstruction or weapon

“there were bars in the windows to prevent escape”
show 46 types...
hide 46 types...
belaying pin
a wood or metal bar to which a rope can be secured (as on a ship or in mountain climbing)
bolt, deadbolt
the part of a lock that is engaged or withdrawn with a key
a sliding bar in a breech-loading firearm that ejects an empty cartridge and replaces it and closes the breech
carpenter's level
a straight bar of light metal with a spirit level in it
chinning bar
a horizontal bar on which you can chin yourself
a bar of magnetic material (as soft iron) that passes through a coil and serves to increase the inductance of the coil
a horizontal bar that goes across something
a strong metal bar bearing a hook to attach something to be pulled
a small bar of metal across the fingerboard of a musical instrument; when the string is stopped by a finger at the metal bar it will produce a note of the desired pitch
grab bar
a bar attached parallel to a wall to provide a handgrip for steadying yourself
the shaped bar used to steer a bicycle
a metal bar (or length of pipe) used as a lever
a bar used as a lever (as in twisting rope)
a rigid bar pivoted about a fulcrum
a horizontal bar (usually of wood or metal)
the revolving bar of a distributor
a U-shaped bar; the open end can be passed through chain links and closed with a bar
slice bar
iron bar used to loosen and rake clinkers out of furnaces
anti-sway bar, stabilizer bar
a rigid metal bar between the front suspensions and between the rear suspensions of cars and trucks; serves to stabilize the chassis
towel bar, towel rail
a horizontal bar a few inches from a wall for holding towels
rail, rails, runway, track
a bar or pair of parallel bars of rolled steel making the railway along which railroad cars or other vehicles can roll
compound lever
a pair of levers hinged at the fulcrum
crowbar, pry, pry bar, wrecking bar
a heavy iron lever with one end forged into a wedge
a crossbar on a wagon or carriage to which two whiffletrees are attached in order to harness two horses abreast
gun trigger, trigger
lever that activates the firing mechanism of a gun
hand throttle
a hand-operated lever that controls the throttle valve
hitching bar, hitchrack
a fixed horizontal rail to which a horse can be hitched to prevent it from straying
a lever (as in a keyboard) that actuates a mechanism when depressed
ledger board
top rail of a fence or balustrade
cant dog, dog hook, peavey, peavy
a stout lever with a sharp spike; used for handling logs
foot lever, foot pedal, pedal, treadle
a lever that is operated with the foot
picture rail
rail fixed to a wall for hanging pictures
pinch bar
a lever with a pointed projection that serves as a fulcrum; used to roll heavy wheels
plate rail
rail or narrow shelf fixed to a wall to display plates
plumb level
a carpenter's level with a plumb line at right angles to it
ripping bar
a steel lever with one end formed into a ripping chisel and the other a gooseneck with a claw for pulling nails
rocker arm, valve rocker
a lever pivoted at the center; used especially to push a valve down in an internal-combustion engine
safety bolt, safety lock
a bolt that cannot be moved from outside the door or gate
spark lever
(on early automobiles) a lever mounted on the steering column and used to adjust the timing of the ignition
fence rail, split rail
a rail that is split from a log
control stick, joystick, stick
a lever used by a pilot to control the ailerons and elevators of an airplane
a lever that is moved in order to tap something else
third rail
a rail through which electric current is supplied to an electric locomotive
lever used to turn the rudder on a boat
tire iron, tire tool
hand tool consisting of a lever that is used to force the casing of a pneumatic tire onto a steel wheel
swingletree, whiffletree, whippletree
a crossbar that is attached to the traces of a draft horse and to the vehicle or implement that the horse is pulling
Type of:
instrumentation (a piece of equipment or tool) used to effect an end

n a block of solid substance (such as soap or wax)

“a bar of chocolate”
a small flat compressed cake of some substance
Type of:
a solid piece of something (usually having flat rectangular sides)

n a narrow marking of a different color or texture from the background

“a green toad with small black stripes or bars
streak, stripe
band, banding, stria, striation
a stripe or stripes of contrasting color
(zoology) an encircling band or marking around the neck of any animal
stretch mark
a narrow band resulting from tension on the skin (as on abdominal skin after pregnancy)
Type of:
a pattern of marks

n an obstruction (usually metal) placed at the top of a goal

“it was an excellent kick but the ball hit the bar
Type of:
impediment, impedimenta, obstructer, obstruction, obstructor
any structure that makes progress difficult

n a horizontal rod that serves as a support for gymnasts as they perform exercises

Type of:
any device that bears the weight of another thing

n a submerged (or partly submerged) ridge in a river or along a shore

“the boat ran aground on a submerged bar in the river”
sand bar, sandbar
a bar of sand
Type of:
anything serving to maintain separation by obstructing vision or access
a long narrow natural elevation or striation

n a heating element in an electric fire

“an electric fire with three bars
Type of:
heating element
the component of a heater or range that transforms fuel or electricity into heat

v secure with, or as if with, bars

“He barred the door”
remove a bar from (a door)
Type of:
fasten, fix, secure
cause to be firmly attached

n a counter where you can obtain food or drink

“he bought a hot dog and a coke at the bar
show 10 types...
hide 10 types...
cash bar
a counter at a large party where you can purchase drinks by the glass
oyster bar
a bar (as in a restaurant) that specializes in oysters prepared in different ways
salad bar
a bar where diners can assemble a salad to their own taste
buffet, snack bar, snack counter
usually inexpensive bar
soda fountain
a counter where ice cream and sodas and sundaes are prepared and served
sushi bar
a bar where sushi is served
wet bar
a bar for mixing drinks that has a sink with running water
wine bar
a bar that serves only wine
a snack bar in a film studio
milk bar
snack bar that sells milk drinks and light refreshments (such as ice cream)
Type of:
table consisting of a horizontal surface over which business is transacted

n a room or establishment where alcoholic drinks are served over a counter

“he drowned his sorrows in whiskey at the bar
barroom, ginmill, saloon, taproom
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
barrelhouse, honky-tonk
a cheap drinking and dancing establishment
cocktail lounge
a barroom in a hotel or restaurant where cocktails are served
sawdust saloon
a saloon whose floor is covered with sawdust
(during prohibition) an illegal barroom
Type of:
an area within a building enclosed by walls and floor and ceiling

n the act of preventing

“there was no bar against leaving”
show 12 types...
hide 12 types...
the act of preventing something from occurring
the act of prevention by legal means
the act of preventing someone from participating by finding them unqualified
the act of intercepting; preventing something from proceeding or arriving
non-proliferation, nonproliferation
the prevention of something increasing or spreading (especially the prevention of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons)
forestalling, obviation, preclusion
the act of preventing something by anticipating and disposing of it effectively
the prevention of disease
(sports) the act of preventing the opposition from scoring
crushing, quelling, stifling, suppression
forceful prevention; putting down by power or authority
suspension, temporary removal
a temporary debarment (from a privilege or position etc)
recusal, recusation
(law) the disqualification of a judge or jury by reason of prejudice or conflict of interest; a judge can be recused by objections of either party or judges can disqualify themselves
severely repressive actions
Type of:
hinderance, hindrance, interference
the act of hindering or obstructing or impeding

v render unsuitable for passage

barricade, block, block off, block up, blockade, stop
block, obstruct
shut out from view or get in the way so as to hide from sight
block off, close off, shut off
block off the passage through
bar access to
Type of:
block, close up, impede, jam, obstruct, obturate, occlude
block passage through

v expel, as if by official decree

banish, relegate
stand in the way of
Type of:
expel, kick out, throw out
force to leave or move out

v prevent from entering; keep out

“He was barred from membership in the club”
debar, exclude
Type of:
disallow, forbid, interdict, nix, prohibit, proscribe, veto
command against

n (meteorology) a unit of pressure equal to a million dynes per square centimeter

“unfortunately some writers have used bar for one dyne per square centimeter”
Type of:
pressure unit
a unit measuring force per unit area

n musical notation for a repeating pattern of musical beats

“the orchestra omitted the last twelve bars of the song”
Type of:
musical notation
(music) notation used by musicians

n the body of individuals qualified to practice law in a particular jurisdiction

“he was admitted to the bar in New Jersey”
legal community, legal profession
Type of:
the body of people in a learned occupation

n (law) a railing that encloses the part of the courtroom where the judges and lawyers sit and the case is tried

“spectators were not allowed past the bar
Type of:
rail, railing
a barrier consisting of a horizontal bar and supports

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.