[poh-stern, pos-tern]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for postern

Historical Examples of postern

  • 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)

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

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

  • As each man did so he had to retire by a postern leading to the sea.



  • Cowper assumes a second postern, but there is no evidence for this, and l. 139 ff.

  • If I do but send them a message they will surely come to the postern gate.

    Sir Nigel

    Arthur Conan Doyle

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 for postern

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

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