from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A tower or other fortification on the approach to a castle or town, especially one at a gate or drawbridge.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A tower at the entrance to a castle or fortified town
- n. A fortress at the end of a bridge.
- n. An opening in the wall of a fortress through which the guns are levelled; a narrow loophole through which arrows and other missiles may be shot.
- n. A temporary wooden tower built for defensive purposes.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A tower or advanced work defending the entrance to a castle or city, as at a gate or bridge. It was often large and strong, having a ditch and drawbridge of its own.
- n. An opening in the wall of a fortress, through which missiles were discharged upon an enemy.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In medieval fortification, an outwork of a castle or fortified place.
- n. A loophole.
- n. A channel or scupper in a parapet for the discharge of water.
- n. A scansorial barbet of the family Capitonidæ and subfamily Pogonorhynchinæ, or the genus Pogonias in a broad sense. The barbicans are all African, like the barbions.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a tower that is part of a defensive structure (such as a castle)
Middle English, from Old French barbacane, from Medieval Latin barbacana, from Persian barbārkhān : barbār, guard (from Old Iranian *parivāraka-, protective; see wer-4 in Indo-European roots) + khān, house (from Middle Persian).(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French barbacane, of uncertain origin: compare Arabic بربخ (barbakh, "aqueduct, sewer"), and Persian بابخانه (bab-khâna, "gatehouse"). (Wiktionary)