Definition of portcullis in US English:



  • A strong, heavy grating that can be lowered down grooves on each side of a gateway to block it.

    • ‘To create a medieval feel, the towers will have arrow slits and cars will be able to drive under the archway beneath a raised portcullis.’
    • ‘The massively arched door, in the style of a portcullis, is defended on either side by rampant lions, petrified in mid-snarl.’
    • ‘Erastus answered and the gate was lowered, the portcullis drawn up.’
    • ‘Impressive, but all the buildings have a bit of castle in them - a turret here, a portcullis there.’
    • ‘Visitors to the Richard III Museum are still able to operate the portcullis's mechanism, and it could be lowered if necessary.’
    • ‘In addition, a medieval style archway will be put up across Churchgate from January 11 until January 25 and it will be built complete with turrets, a portcullis and arrow slits.’
    • ‘Monk Bar was built in the 14th century and is the tallest gateway, with a portcullis still in working order.’
    • ‘They passed by the main gateway, which consisted of portcullises and a drawbridge that stood between two massive towers, each with projecting becs.’
    • ‘The way across into the first circle was a stone and cobbled bridge, arched by stone and wood semi-circles and blocked by a huge portcullis.’
    • ‘Sticking his head down through the entrance, he saw the portcullis was up and he wondered how to lower it.’
    • ‘The guard nodded to the old gatekeeper, who set to work hefting the chains that would raise the small portcullis that now blocked the way out into the city.’
    • ‘Slots along their sides show that there were originally portcullises, whilst the sockets for the doors are still clearly visible.’
    • ‘He paused before passing through the first gate and into the short passageway between the entrance to the fortress and the inner portcullis.’
    • ‘The approach would have been hard to breach, with the long, narrow entrance passage defended, in addition to gates, portcullises, two drawbridges, and ‘murder holes’, by fire from triple battlements.’
    • ‘The iron portcullis was slowly lowered down, but she saw no one in sight.’
    • ‘The gateway into the courtyard had been closed off by a portcullis, guarded by guards bristling with weapons.’
    • ‘The gateway was equipped with a portcullis, but it was raised and the entry was protected only by a light, almost ornamental iron lattice.’
    • ‘I heartily approve of the Civic Trust's proposal to lower the portcullis at Bootham Bar.’
    • ‘I panicked, and scrambled to the back of the wagon again as the portcullis lifted to admit us to the courtyard.’
    • ‘Unbroken, that is, except by the gate itself, with the heavy iron bars of the portcullis still lowered at this early hour.’


Middle English: from Old French porte coleice ‘sliding door’, from porte ‘door’ (from Latin porta) + coleice ‘sliding’ (feminine of couleis, from Latin colare ‘to filter’).