Civil Engineering. a gate designed to regulate the flow of water.
anything serving to control the indiscriminate flow or passage of something.

1175–1225; Middle English; see flood, gate

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World English Dictionary
floodgate (ˈflʌdˌɡeɪt)
1.  See also sluicegate head gate, Also called: water gate a gate in a sluice that is used to control the flow of water
2.  (often plural) a control or barrier against an outpouring or flow: to open the floodgates to immigration

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

early 13c. in the figurative sense (especially with reference to tears or rain); literal sense is mid-15c.; from flood + gate.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


gate for shutting out or releasing the flow of water over spillways, in connection with the operation of a dam. Vertical lift, or radial, gates rise to permit flow under the gate but over the spillway crest. Drum gates rotate backward, lowering their tops and permitting a measured flow over the top of the gate. Drum gates present the fewest problems in the passage of ice or drift over the spillway.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Also called levee or floodgate storm surge: noun: abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm.
Do you get the sense now that there's going to be a floodgate opening, that you two are going to be the next wave of many.
They become trapped in these bodies of waters when the floodgate connections to the estuaries are closed.
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