Definition of barbican in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbärbəkən/


The outer defense of a castle or walled city, especially a double tower above a gate or drawbridge.
Example sentences
  • A barbican is a city's first line of defence: and Railtrack is a company under siege.
  • Access has not altered since the fourteenth century, when the maritime republic, then known as Ragusa, completed its two land gates, with barbicans, and two sea gates feeding the harbour.
  • The gatehouse is approached via a brick barbican, a defensive outwork furnished with arrow slits and end turrets.


Middle English: from Old French barbacane; probably based on Arabic.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bar·bi·can

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