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 Then Iraq’s new rulers lowered a paper portcullis, demanding fees and the completion of myriad forms. The Economist, "Opening up Getting into Iraq may soon be much easier," 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, "Scotland Private Expedition," 12 June 2019 The front door is often guarded with a metal portcullis. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, "European Castles: Easier to Buy Than You Might Think," 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for portcullis

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for portcullis

Last Updated

17 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portcullis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portcullis. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for portcullis



English Language Learners Definition of portcullis

formal + literary : a heavy iron gate that can be raised or lowered at the entrance to a castle


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)

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