Definition of bailey in US English:


nounPlural baileys

  • 1The outer wall of a castle.

    • ‘The bailey and battlements were dotted with small fires, and men stood around them, more for something to do than for warmth.’
    • ‘Similarly, the White Tower, at that time outside London, was wrapped with a stone bailey wall in 1270-1300 and then by a second one immediately afterward.’
    • ‘Even with the bailey wall between the people and the demons and undead outside, they still kept their distance.’
    • ‘This shows that there must have been a doorway which opened at right angles to the line of the bailey wall.’
    • ‘Before the main rampart of the castle (from the Romanesque period) he placed a new bailey wall.’
    • ‘From the thinning mist, Sibyl watched as the serfs outside the outer bailey plowed the acres of harvest-ready grain and whatnot.’
    • ‘Begun by Arnulf de Montgomery, a son of Roger de Montgomery, earl of Shrewsbury, it has an inner and outer bailey.’
    • ‘Its stern-faced buildings barricade their central courtyard like the bailey walls of a Norman castle: no accident, as the great paternalist lived in fear of the mob marching on his works.’
    • ‘They passed by the blacksmith and toward the curtain wall of the outer bailey.’
    • ‘The western section of this outer wall alone runs well over 1500 feet, half again as long as the entire inner bailey wall.’
    • ‘Richard also had dirt packed around the outside base of the bailey wall.’
    • ‘St John's Church was built within the outer bailey of the medieval castle by Bishop Roger of Salisbury, Chancellor to King Henry I.’
    • ‘Today one tower (4 towers were mentioned in 1331) and parts of the castle bailey wall remain.’
    • ‘This was just past the junction of the inner bailey wall with the eastern wall of the outer bailey wall.’
    • ‘The outer bailey wall probably dates from 1223.’
    • ‘Parts of the outer bailey may also lie buried under the town.’
    • ‘The bailey wall was a high wall with a steep face that was originally made of earth.’
    • ‘The site was located within the bailey of Southampton Castle, about 17m east of the west bailey wall (now part of the town wall).’
    • ‘Once the outer curtain was complete it become the more formidable defence of the castle and a portion of the inner curtain facing the outer bailey was demolished to create a single large enclosure.’
    • ‘As if they were but marionettes, they all marched amiably into the dank corridors beneath the garrison at the castle’s bailey wall.’
    fortification, rampart, barricade, parapet, bulwark, stockade, breastwork
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A court enclosed by a bailey.
      • ‘The Saxon Kingdom was divided up parcels of land that rather than a burh at its centre had Motte and bailey castles erected.’
      • ‘They had reached the edge of the shadows cast by the keep's main building and there was the open space of the bailey to cross in order to reach the guardhouse.’
      • ‘The motte was an earthen mound, conical in shape and the bailey was a level area around the motte, both of which would have had a wooden stockade surrounding.’
      • ‘There were stares and whispers as Bryony dismounted in the bailey, handing the reins to Tauno, one of her soldiers.’
      • ‘He watched with drugged, but burning, eyes as the man who had ‘greeted’ him in the bailey, strolled casually towards him.’
      • ‘He made his way quickly out of the mess hall and into a side bailey.’
      • ‘Now you are in the bailey and exposed to arrow fire from the thickly walled structures within.’
      • ‘The estate began life sometime around 1207, when Dunloe Castle was built on the motte and bailey principle to command the Dunloe Gap and the passage across the Laune and the Loe rivers.’
      • ‘Launceston is one of a small yet distinctive group of towns whose street patterns suggest they initially grew up within the confines of large outer baileys or enclosures appended to castles.’
      • ‘This layout suggest the presence on the site of a formerly old castle of the motte-and bailey type, the curtains of the upper ward forms a sloping stone revetment of the motte.’
      • ‘Robert threw himself energetically into building a complex polygonal motte and bailey fortress out of wood there.’
      • ‘Motte and bailey castles appeared in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066.’
      • ‘Before the present castle was constructed, a Norman motte and bailey fortification existed nearby.’
      • ‘Soldiers and staff watched from windows, doors, and battlements as we passed from bailey to bailey until we reached the courtyard around the huge central keep.’
      • ‘Then all the horsemen assembled in the bailey were racing out beneath the low gap, swords drawn, wild cries of war on their lips.’
      • ‘Founded by William the Conqueror, the fine motte and bailey castle was popular with medieval monarchs, some of whom used it as a royal hunting lodge.’
      • ‘The second main phase of use began immediately after the Norman conquest when William I constructed a motte and bailey castle in the middle of the earlier hillfort.’
      • ‘Swan Yard used to be the Market Square when it was the outer bailey of Devizes Castle and as well as shops we want to have cafes and public spaces for people sit, eat and chat.’
      • ‘Whereas motte and bailey castles were surrounded by a wooden fence, the stone keeps could rely on outer walls made of stone (curtain walls).’
      • ‘William built a motte and bailey castle on Pevensey Bay and held a feast to celebrate the Normans' safe arrival.’


Middle English: probably from Old French baile ‘palisade, enclosure’ (see bail).