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portcullis

[pawrt-kuhl-is, pohrt-]
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noun
  1. (especially in medieval castles) a strong grating, as of iron, made to slide along vertical grooves at the sides of a gateway of a fortified place and let down to prevent passage.
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Origin of portcullis

1300–50; Middle English portecolys < Middle French porte coleice, equivalent to porte port4 + coleice, feminine of coleis flowing, sliding < Vulgar Latin *cōlātīcius; see coulee, -itious
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for portcullis

Historical Examples

  • When Corkran got to his portcullis, he thought he'd reached the reward of his labours.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Bid the varlets lower the draw-bridge and raise the portcullis.

    The Nebuly Coat

    John Meade Falkner

  • Turning, they wished to flee into the castle and pull down the portcullis.

  • Edouard felt as it were a portcullis of ice come down between her and him.

    White Lies

    Charles Reade

  • This suggests colander, which, like portcullis, belongs to Lat.


British Dictionary definitions for portcullis

portcullis

noun
  1. an iron or wooden grating suspended vertically in grooves in the gateway of a castle or fortified town and able to be lowered so as to bar the entrance
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Word Origin

C14 port colice, from Old French porte coleïce sliding gate, from porte door, entrance + coleïce, from couler to slide, flow, from Late Latin cōlāre to filter
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 portcullis

n.

also port-cullis, c.1300, from Old French porte coleice "sliding gate" (c.1200, Modern French porte à coulisse), from porte "gate" (see port (n.2)) + coleice "sliding, flowing," fem. of coleis, from Latin colatus, past participle of colare "to filter, strain" (see colander).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper