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A short, circular tower, usually made of stone and located near a shoreline as a defensive fortification.
[After Cape Mortella, Corsica, where such a tower was taken from French control by British forces in 1794 (influenced by Italian martello, hammer, in torre di martello, hammer tower, a kind of watchtower of the coasts and islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea from which an alarm signal was given by striking a bell with a hammer rather than by lighting a fire).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Martello tower(mɑːˈtɛləʊ) or
(Fortifications) a small circular tower for coastal defence, formerly much used in Europe
[C18: after Cape Mortella in Corsica, where the British navy captured a tower of this type in 1794]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
Mar•tel′lo tow`er(mɑrˈtɛl oʊ)
a circular fort.
[after Cape Mortella, Corsica, where a tower of this kind was taken by British forces in 1794]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
An English artillery coastal fortification copied from a tower captured in Corsica 1794; 74 were built on the east and south coasts of England against the French invasion threat 1805–12.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited