1 [pawr-ter, pohr-]
a person hired to carry burdens or baggage, as at a railroad station or a hotel.
a person who does cleaning and maintenance work in a building, factory, store, etc.
an attendant in a railroad parlor car or sleeping car.

1350–1400; Middle English, variant of portour < Middle French porteour < Late Latin portātōr- (stem of portātor). See port5, -or2

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2 [pawr-ter, pohr-]
a person who has charge of a door or gate; doorkeeper.
Roman Catholic Church, ostiary ( def 1 ).

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French < Late Latin portārius gatekeeper. See port4, -er2


3 [pawr-ter, pohr-]
a heavy, dark-brown ale made with malt browned by drying at a high temperature.

1720–30; short for porter's ale, apparently orig. brewed for porters


[pawr-ter, pohr-]
Cole, 1893–1964, U.S. composer.
David, 1780–1843, U.S. naval officer.
his son, David Dixon [dik-suhn] , 1813–91, Union naval officer in the Civil War.
Edwin Stanton, 1870–1941, U.S. film director.
Gene (Gene Stratton Porter) 1868–1924, U.S. novelist.
Sir George, 1920–2002, British chemist: Nobel prize 1967.
Katherine Anne, 1890–1980, U.S. writer.
Noah, 1811–92, U.S. educator, writer, and lexicographer.
Rodney Robert, 1917–85, British biochemist: Nobel Prize in medicine 1972.
William Sydney ("O. Henry") 1862–1910, U.S. short-story writer.
a male given name.


2 [pawrt, pohrt]
the left-hand side of a vessel or aircraft, facing forward.
pertaining to or designating port.
located on the left side of a vessel or aircraft.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to turn or shift to the port, or left, side.

1570–80; special use of port4

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
port1 (pɔːt)
1.  a town or place alongside navigable water with facilities for the loading and unloading of ships
2.  See port of entry
[Old English, from Latin portus harbour, port]

port2 (pɔːt)
1.  Also called (formerly): larboard
 a.  the left side of an aircraft or vessel when facing the nose or bow
 b.  Compare starboard (as modifier): the port bow
2.  to turn or be turned towards the port
[C17: origin uncertain]

port3 (pɔːt)
a sweet fortified dessert wine
[C17: after Oporto, Portugal, from where it came originally]

port4 (pɔːt)
1.  nautical
 a.  an opening in the side of a ship, fitted with a watertight door, for access to the holds
 b.  See porthole
2.  a small opening in a wall, armoured vehicle, etc, for firing through
3.  an aperture, esp one controlled by a valve, by which fluid enters or leaves the cylinder head of an engine, compressor, etc
4.  electronics a logic circuit for the input and ouput of data
5.  chiefly (Scot) a gate or portal in a town or fortress
[Old English, from Latin porta gate]

port5 (pɔːt)
1.  (tr) to carry (a rifle, etc) in a position diagonally across the body with the muzzle near the left shoulder
2.  this position
[C14: from Old French, from porter to carry, from Latin portāre]

port6 (pɔːt)
(tr) computing to change (programs) from one system to another
[C20: probably from port4]

port7 (pɔːt)
(Austral) (esp in Queensland) a suitcase or school case
[C20: shortened from portmanteau]

porter1 (ˈpɔːtə)
1.  a person employed to carry luggage, parcels, supplies, etc, esp at a railway station or hotel
2.  (in hospitals) a person employed to move patients from place to place
3.  (US), (Canadian) a railway employee who waits on passengers, esp in a sleeper
4.  (E African) a manual labourer
[C14: from Old French portour, from Late Latin portātōr, from Latin portāre to carry]

porter2 (ˈpɔːtə)
1.  chiefly (Brit) a person in charge of a gate or door; doorman or gatekeeper
2.  a person employed by a university or college as a caretaker and doorkeeper who also answers enquiries
3.  a person in charge of the maintenance of a building, esp a block of flats
4.  RC Church Also called: ostiary a person ordained to what was formerly the lowest in rank of the minor orders
[C13: from Old French portier, from Late Latin portārius doorkeeper, from Latin porta door]

porter3 (ˈpɔːtə)
(Brit) a dark sweet ale brewed from black malt
[C18: shortened from porter's ale, apparently because it was a favourite beverage of porters]

Porter (ˈpɔːtə)
1.  Cole. 1893--1964, US composer and lyricist of musical comedies. His most popular songs include Night and Day and Let's do It
2.  George, Baron Porter of Luddenham. 1920--2002, British chemist, who shared a Nobel prize for chemistry in 1967 for his work on flash photolysis
3.  Katherine Anne. 1890--1980, US short-story writer and novelist. Her best-known collections of stories are Flowering Judas (1930) and Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939)
4.  Peter. born 1929, Australian poet, living in Britain
5.  Rodney Robert. 1917--85, British biochemist: shared the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine 1972 for determining the structure of an antibody
6.  William Sidney. original name of O. Henry

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

"harbor," O.E. port "harbor, haven," reinforced by O.Fr. port, both O.E. and O.Fr. from L. portus "port, harbor," originally "entrance, passage," from PIE *prtu- "a going, a passage," from base *per- "to lead, pass over" (cf. Skt. parayati "carries over;" Gk. poros "journey, passage, way," peirein "to
pierce, run through;" L. porta "gate, door," portare "passage," peritus "experienced;" Avestan peretush "passage, ford, bridge;" Armenian hordan "go forward;" Welsh rhyd "ford;" O.C.S. pariti "fly;" O.E. faran "to go, journey," O.N. fjörðr "inlet, estuary"). Meaning "left side of a ship" is attested from 1543, from notion of "the side facing the harbor" (when a ship is docked). It replaced larboard in common usage to avoid confusion with starboard (q.v.); officially so by Admiralty order of 1844 and U.S. Navy Department notice of 1846. Fig. sense "place of refuge" is attested from 1426; phrase any port in a storm first recorded 1749.

"gateway," O.E., from O.Fr. porte "gate, entrance," from L. porta "gate, door," from PIE base *per- (see port (1)). Specific meaning "porthole, opening in the side of a ship" is attested from 1243.

"bearing, mien," c.1369, from O.Fr. port, from porter "to carry," from L. portare (see port (1)).

"sweet dark-red wine," 1691, shortened from Oporto, city in northwest Portugal from which the wine was originally shipped, from O Porto "the port."

"person who carries," 1263, from Anglo-Fr. portour, O.Fr. porteor, from L.L. portatorem (acc. portator) "one who carries," from L. portare "to carry" (see port (1)).

"doorkeeper, janitor," 1180s, from Anglo-Fr. portour, from O.Fr. portier, from L.L. portarius "gatekeeper," from L. porta "gate" (see port (2)).

"dark beer," 1727, as porter's ale, from porter (1), because the beer was made for porters and other laborers, being cheap and strong.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

Porter Por·ter (pôr'tər), Rodney Robert. Born 1917.

British biochemist. He shared a 1972 Nobel Prize for his research on the chemical structure and nature of antibodies.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
port   (pôrt)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. An opening, as in a cylinder or valve face, for the passage of steam or fluid.

  2. A place where data can pass into or out of a central processing unit, computer, or peripheral. With central processing units, a port is a fixed set of connections for incoming and outgoing data or instructions. With computers and peripherals, a port is generally a socket into which a connector can be plugged.

Porter   (pôr'tər)  Pronunciation Key 
British biochemist who shared with George Edelman the 1972 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for their study of the chemical structure of antibodies.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Porter definition

a gate-keeper (2 Sam. 18:26; 2 Kings 7:10; 1 Chr. 9:21; 2 Chr. 8:14). Of the Levites, 4,000 were appointed as porters by David (1 Chr. 23:5), who were arranged according to their families (26:1-19) to take charge of the doors and gates of the temple. They were sometimes employed as musicians (1 Chr. 15:18).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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