moat

[moht]
noun
1.
a deep, wide trench, usually filled with water, surrounding the rampart of a fortified place, as a town or a castle.
2.
any similar trench, as one used for confining animals in a zoo.

Origin:
1325–75; Middle English mote < Old French: clod, mound, of obscure origin

moat, mote.
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World English Dictionary
moat (məʊt)
 
n
1.  a wide water-filled ditch surrounding a fortified place, such as a castle
 
vb
2.  (tr) to surround with or as if with a moat: a moated grange
 
[C14: from Old French motte mound]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

moat
mid-14c., from O.Fr. mote, from M.L. mota "mound, fortified height," probably from Gaulish mutt, mutta. Sense shifted in Norman French from the castle mound to the ditch dug around it.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
In the past the agency has refused access to the tomb on the grounds that the
  boat to cross its moat is too old and unsafe.
Next they cut down branches and use them to dam the stream so that water rises
  around the lodge, creating a protective moat.
Renderings show a moat and huge, silvery wedges of metal jutting outward from
  the building's base.
Because the place is surrounded by a moat of sorts, celebrities feel protected.
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