French: 1. habitational name from any of various places called Barre. Barre-en-Ouche in Eure or Barre-de-Semilly in Manche are named with Old French barre ‘bar’, ‘obstruction’, ‘gateway’. Others, for example Barre in Lozère, derive their name from the Celtic element barr ‘height’. 2. (Barré) from barré, the past participle of Old French barrer, a derivative of barre ‘bar’ (see 1). The meaning of the surname derived from this word is uncertain. It may sometimes have been a topographic name for a person who lived in a place that was naturally cut off or particularly well fortified, but in many cases it was probably a nickname meaning ‘striped’, referring to a habitual wearer of striped clothing or possibly to someone with a noticeable birthmark. In the Middle Ages the term was also applied to the Carmelite Friars, who wore habits striped in black, yellow, and white, and it may have been used as a nickname for someone thought to resemble a Carmelite in some way. The name is also found in Germany, attested as a Huguenot name, for example in Magdeburg in 1703.