1. A title or degree of nobility; originally, the possessor of a fief, who had feudal tenants under him; in modern times, in France and Germany, a nobleman next in rank below a count; in England, a nobleman of the lowest grade in the house of lords, being next below a viscount.
The tenants in chief from the crown, who held lands of the annual value of four hundred pounds, were styled Barons; and it is to them, and not to the members of the lowest grade of the nobility (to whom the title at the present time belongs), that reference is made when we read of the Barons of the early days of England’s history . . . . Barons are addressed as ‘My lord,’ and are styled ‘Right Honorable.’ All their sons and daughters ‘Honorable.‘
2. A husband; as, baron and feme, husband and wife. Baron of beef, two sirloins not cut asunder at the backbone. Barons of the Cinque ports, formerly members of the house of Commons, elected by the seven Cinque ports, two for each port. Baron of the exchequer, the judges of the Court of exchequer, one of the three ancient courts of England, now abolished.
Origin: oe. Baron, barun, OF. Baron, accus. Of ber, f. Baron, prob. Fr. OHG. Baro (not found) bearer, akin to E. Bear to support; cf. O. Frisian bere, LL. Baro, It. Barone, sp. Varon. From the meaning bearer (of burdens) seem to have come the senses strong man, man (in distinction from woman), which is the oldest meaning in french, and lastly, nobleman. Cf. L. Baro, simpleton. See bear to support.