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  1. a large fortified place; a fort or group of forts, often including a town; citadel.
  2. any place of exceptional security; stronghold.
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Origin of fortress

1300–50; Middle English forteresse < Old French < Vulgar Latin *fortaricia (compare Medieval Latin fortalitia), equivalent to Latin fort(is) strong + -ar-, formative of uncertain meaning +-icia -ice
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

rampart, garrison, barrier, citadel, castle, fort, redoubt, bastille

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British Dictionary definitions for fortress


  1. a large fort or fortified town
  2. a place or source of refuge or support
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  1. (tr) to protect with or as if with a fortress
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French forteresse, from Medieval Latin fortalitia, from Latin fortis strong
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 fortress


early 14c., from Old French forteresse "strong place" (12c.), variant of fortelesse, from Medieval Latin fortalitia, from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort) + English -ess, a fairly uncommon suffix (duress, largess being other examples), from Latin -itia, forming nouns of quality or condition.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper