ETYM Old Eng. barli, barlich, AS. baerlic; bere barley + lîc (which is prob. the same as Eng. like.
1. Kind of grain cultivated since prehistoric times; grown for forage and grain.
2. A grain of barley; SYN. barleycorn.
Cereal belonging to the grass family (Gramineae). It resembles wheat but is more tolerant of cold and drafts. Cultivated barley Hordeum vulgare comprises three main varieties—six-rowed, four-rowed, and two-rowed.
Barley was one of the earliest cereals to be cultivated, about 5000 BC in Egypt, and no other cereal can thrive in so wide a range of climatic conditions; polar barley is sown and reaped well within the Arctic Circle in Europe. Barley is no longer much used in bread-making, but it is used in soups and stews and as a starch. Its high-protein form finds a wide use as animal feed, and its low-protein form is used in brewing and distilling alcoholic beverages.