port·​cul·​lis | \ pȯrt-ˈkə-ləs How to pronounce portcullis (audio) \

Definition of portcullis

: a grating of iron hung over the gateway of a fortified place and lowered between grooves to prevent passage

Illustration of portcullis

Illustration of portcullis

Examples of portcullis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The prior owner went all out on building a Medieval-style castle, with a moat, a drawbridge and a portcullis. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, 3 Mar. 2022 Medieval amenities include a moat, two watchtowers and two gates, a drawbridge, an underground cave (complete with a Jacuzzi!), trap doors, and a genuine portcullis (a metal-and-wood gate typically seen in medieval fortresses). Mary Elizabeth Andriotis, House Beautiful, 20 Jan. 2022 Then Iraq’s new rulers lowered a paper portcullis, demanding fees and the completion of myriad forms. The Economist, 10 Apr. 2021 Pass beneath an imposing portcullis into Edinburgh Castle, home to the National War Museum and the 12th-century St. Margaret’s Chapel—believed to be the oldest building in Edinburgh. National Geographic, 12 June 2019 The front door is often guarded with a metal portcullis. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, 31 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'portcullis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of portcullis

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for portcullis

Middle English port colice, from Anglo-French porte coliz, literally, sliding door

Learn More About portcullis

Time Traveler for portcullis

Time Traveler

The first known use of portcullis was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near portcullis



portcullis money

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for portcullis

Cite this Entry

“Portcullis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portcullis. Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for portcullis


port·​cul·​lis | \ pȯrt-ˈkə-ləs How to pronounce portcullis (audio) \

Kids Definition of portcullis

: a heavy iron gate that can be lowered to prevent entrance (as to a castle)

More from Merriam-Webster on portcullis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for portcullis


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!