a deep, wide trench, usually filled with water, surrounding the rampart of a fortified place, as a town or a castle.
any similar trench, as one used for confining animals in a zoo.

Origin of moat

1325–75; Middle English mote < Old French: clod, mound, of obscure origin
Can be confusedmoat mote Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for moat

trench, gully, canal, channel, fosse

Examples from the Web for moat

Contemporary Examples of moat

Historical Examples of moat

  • The rectory was often surrounded by a moat, with an entrance protected by a gatehouse.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • Charley got me information about the fair, and the day before it, I set out for the Moat.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • I should have done better to go down to the Moat, and be silent.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • A moment later it rang home against the wall on my side of the moat.

  • Me she had not seen, nor did she till I darted out of my ambush, and leapt after Rupert into the moat.

British Dictionary definitions for moat



a wide water-filled ditch surrounding a fortified place, such as a castle


(tr) to surround with or as if with a moata moated grange

Word Origin for moat

C14: from Old French motte mound
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 moat

mid-14c., from Old French mote "mound, hillock, embankment; castle built on a hill" (12c.; Modern French motte), from Medieval Latin mota "mound, fortified height," of unknown origin, perhaps from Gaulish mutt, mutta. Sense shifted in Norman French from the castle mound to the ditch dug around it. As a verb, "to surround with a moat," early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper