[pawrt-kuhl-is, pohrt-]
(especially in medieval castles) a strong grating, as of iron, made to slide along vertical grooves at the sides of a gateway of a fortified place and let down to prevent passage.

1300–50; Middle English portecolys < Middle French porte coleice, equivalent to porte port4 + coleice, feminine of coleis flowing, sliding < Vulgar Latin *cōlātīcius; see coulee, -itious

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To Portcullis
World English Dictionary
portcullis (pɔːtˈkʌlɪs)
an iron or wooden grating suspended vertically in grooves in the gateway of a castle or fortified town and able to be lowered so as to bar the entrance
[C14 port colice, from Old French porte coleïce sliding gate, from porte door, entrance + coleïce, from couler to slide, flow, from Late Latin cōlāre to filter]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. porte coleice "sliding gate" (c.1200), from porte "gate" (see port (2)) + coleice "sliding, flowing," fem. of coleis, from L. colatus, pp. of colare "to filter, strain."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Example sentences
In the biographer's ears rang the sound of the portcullis crashing down.
Olga's door is a retrofitted portcullis of makeshift armor plate.
Related Words
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature