port·​cul·​lis pȯrt-ˈkə-ləs How to pronounce portcullis (audio)
: 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'portcullis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near portcullis

Cite this Entry

“Portcullis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portcullis. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


port·​cul·​lis pōrt-ˈkəl-əs How to pronounce portcullis (audio)
: a heavy iron gate that can be lowered to prevent entrance (as to a castle)

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