Barbarian is a disparaging term for foreigner, one not sharing a recognized culture or degree of polish with the speaker or writer employing the term. The word derives from the Greek, and expresses with mocking duplication ("bar-bar") alleged attempts by outsiders to speak a "real" language. A "barbarism" in language, especially Greek or Latin, is a term for a misformed word, such as a solecism or a malapropism.

Historically, the term has seen widespread use. The Roman Empire regarded the Germanic peoples, the Gauls, and the Huns as barbarians, while the Han Chinese of the Chinese Empire used the term to refer to the Xiongnu, the Mongols, the Jurchen, and the Europeans.

Converted barbarians have historically proved sometimes the staunchest supporters of the more developed culture they have recently subverted. Historic examples are the Lombards and the Manchu. "The best Romans", wrote Henry James, "are often northern barbarians."

Often today, barbarian is used to mean someone violent or uncivilized in general. See also Philistine.

Related terms are barbaric and barbarous.

See also: