Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A grating of iron or wooden bars or slats, suspended in the gateway of a fortified place and lowered to block passage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A gate in the form of a grating which is lowered into place at the entrance to a castle, fort, etc.
  • v. To obstruct with, or as with, a portcullis; to shut; to bar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A grating of iron or of timbers pointed with iron, hung over the gateway of a fortress, to be let down to prevent the entrance of an enemy.
  • n. An English coin of the reign of Elizabeth, struck for the use of the East India Company; -- so called from its bearing the figure of a portcullis on the reverse.
  • transitive v. To obstruct with, or as with, a portcullis; to shut; to bar.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In fortification, a strong grating of timber or iron, somewhat resembling a harrow, made to slide in vertical grooves in the jambs of the entrance-gate of a fortified place, to protect the gate in case of assault.
  • n. In heraldry: Same as lattice
  • n. The representation of a portcullis: a rare bearing, but familiar in English art of the fifteenth century from its adoption as a badge by the Tudors and in the city arms of Westminster.
  • n. One of the pursuivants of the English College of Heralds: so called from his distinctive badge.
  • n. A coin struck in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, with a portcullis stamped on the reverse.
  • To arm or furnish with a portcullis; hence, to bar; obstruct.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. gate consisting of an iron or wooden grating that hangs in the entry to a castle or fortified town; can be lowered to prevent passage

Etymologies

Middle English port-colice, from Old French porte coleice, sliding gate : porte, gate (from Latin porta; see per-2 in Indo-European roots) + coleice, feminine of coleis, sliding (from Vulgar Latin *cōlātīcius, from Latin cōlātus, past participle of cōlāre, to filter, strain, from cōlum, sieve).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman porte coliz and Old French porte coulëice, from porte ("door") + feminine of colëis ("sliding"), from couler ("to flow"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Duke of York in every severy, and with crowned roses and portcullis alternating with each other, intimating that, as the portcullis was the second defence of a fortress when the gate was broken down, so he had a second claim to the crown through his mother, daughter of John de

    A Short Account of King's College Chapel

  • Behind the portcullis was a thick oaken door studded with steel.

    The Cloister and the Hearth

  • The gateway had what is called a portcullis; that is, a heavy iron gate suspended by chains, so as to rise and fall.

    Rollo in Scotland

  • A portcullis is a defensive latticed iron grating hung over the entrance to a fortified castle, the perfect metaphor for News International, which perpetually sees itself as beset by enemies.

    The Guardian World News

  • If he was admitted, the iron grating ( "portcullis") rose slowly on its creaking pulleys, the heavy, wooden doors swung open, and he found himself in the courtyard commanded by the great central tower ( "keep"), where the lord and his family lived, especially in time of war.

    Early European History

  • Wind that windlass as gingerly as though it were a watch with a weak heart; you will be raising a kind of portcullis at the other end of the boathouse, but if you're heard doing it at dead of night we may have to run or swim for it.

    Mr. Justice Raffles

  • And when we approached Fort Henry I fully expected to see some grand, imposing structure with "battled towers," "donjon keep," "portcullis,"

    The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War, 1861-1865

  • Between the slow ticking of the cogs I listened jealously for foreign sounds, and heard at length a gentle dripping across the breadth of the boathouse; that was the last of the "portcullis," as Raffles called it, rising out of the river; indeed, I could now see the difference in the stretch of stream underneath, for the open end of the boathouse was much less dark than mine; and when the faint band of reflected starlight had broadened as I thought enough, I ceased winding and groped my way down the steps into the boat.

    Mr. Justice Raffles

  • Let the portcullis fall! "wondering what a" portcullis "was, and if I should ever see one or even a château-fort.

    Chateau and Country Life in France

  • All of the sudden, the crowd begins to cheer and a giant portcullis opens.

    An Interview with Venger Satanis : The Lovecraft News Network

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