• synonyms


  1. Civil Engineering. a gate designed to regulate the flow of water.
  2. anything serving to control the indiscriminate flow or passage of something.
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Origin of floodgate

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at flood, gate1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for floodgate

Historical Examples

  • He raised the floodgate, and there at last was a way of escape.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • And, crestfallen, she went along the passages, and once more out into Floodgate Street.

    The Freelands

    John Galsworthy

  • The dam and floodgate were just beyond the southwestern bastion and the old embankment of the dam can still be traced.

  • The pond or reservoir above the floodgate is separated from the weir by a stone wall on the left, or south-west side.

    Wild Wales

    George Borrow

  • The inventor of the damper register opened a floodgate to such aliquot re-enforcement as can be got in no other way.

British Dictionary definitions for floodgate


  1. Also called: head gate, water gate a gate in a sluice that is used to control the flow of waterSee also sluicegate
  2. (often plural) a control or barrier against an outpouring or flowto open the floodgates to immigration
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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

Word Origin and History for floodgate


early 13c. in the figurative sense (especially with reference to tears or rain); literal sense is mid-15c.; from flood (n.) + gate (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper