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[poh-stern, pos-tern] /ˈpoʊ stərn, ˈpɒs tərn/
a back door or gate.
a private entrance or any entrance other than the main one.
of, relating to, or resembling a postern.
Origin of postern
1250-1300; Middle English posterne < Old French, variant of posterle < Late Latin posterula, diminutive of postera back door, noun use of feminine of posterus coming behind. See posterior, -ule Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for postern
Historical Examples
  • The postern gate, too, in Houghton Street still remains, though the arch is bricked up inside.

    The Mystery of 31 New Inn R. Austin Freeman
  • I considered your coachman to be a faithful man, and I told him to wait for you at the postern.

    The Black Tulip Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
  • Thus saying, he pressed her to his bosom for a moment, and then passed through the postern door.

  • He knocked, and presently the postern gaped, and a lantern was advanced.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • So saying, he turned round and departed through the postern door.

    Kenilworth Sir Walter Scott
  • Astonishment robbed me of breath as he threw open the postern.

    The Crossing Winston Churchill
  • The sergeant followed such a group of sight-seers through a postern behind the armory and out onto the cliff.

    Greyfriars Bobby Eleanor Atkinson
  • "That road leads to the postern gate at the top of the hill," she added.

    The Ghost Breaker Charles Goddard
  • While Quasimodo was dealing with the ladder, the scholar had run to the postern which he believed to be open.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • Duncan and his companions waited that night near the postern gate.

    Yule Logs Various
British Dictionary definitions for postern


a back door or gate, esp one that is for private use
situated at the rear or the side
Word Origin
C13: from Old French posterne, from Late Latin posterula (jānua) a back (entrance), from posterus coming behind; see posterior, posterity
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for postern

late 13c., "back door, private door," from Old French posterne "side or rear gate," earlier posterle, from Late Latin posterula "small back door or gate," diminutive of Latin posterus "that is behind, coming after, subsequent," from post "after" (see post-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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