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A tower or other fortification on the approach to a castle or town, especially one at a gate or drawbridge.

[Middle English, from Old French barbacane, from Medieval Latin barbacana, from Persian barbārkhān : barbār, guard (from Old Iranian *parivāraka-, protective; see wer- in Indo-European roots) + khān, house (from Middle Persian).]


1. (Fortifications) a walled outwork or tower to protect a gate or drawbridge of a fortification
2. (Fortifications) a watchtower projecting from a fortification
[C13: from Old French barbacane, from Medieval Latin barbacana, of unknown origin]


(Placename) the Barbican a building complex in the City of London: includes residential developments and the Barbican Arts Centre (completed 1982) housing concert and exhibition halls, theatres, cinemas, etc


(ˈbɑr bɪ kən)

an outwork of a fortified place, esp. one facing or extending over a bridge or gate.
[1250–1300; Middle English < Old French]


Fortifications protecting a draw-bridge, castle entrance, or fortified town gate.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.barbican - a tower that is part of a defensive structure (such as a castle)barbican - a tower that is part of a defensive structure (such as a castle)
tower - a structure taller than its diameter; can stand alone or be attached to a larger building


[ˈbɑːbɪkən] Nbarbacana f


nAußen- or Vorwerk nt; (= tower)Wachtturm m
References in classic literature ?
The access, as usual in castles of the period, lay through an arched barbican, or outwork, which was terminated and defended by a small turret at each corner.
Half pausing for an instant now and then to smite his pocket and assure himself of the safety of his master key, he hurried on to Barbican, and turning into one of the narrowest of the narrow streets which diverged from that centre, slackened his pace and wiped his heated brow, as if the termination of his walk were near at hand.
The little boy was filled with awe and his childish imagination ran riot as they approached the crumbling barbican on foot, leading the horse after them.