from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A doorway, entrance, or gate, especially one that is large and imposing.
  • noun An entrance or a means of entrance.
  • noun The portal vein.
  • noun A website considered as an entry point to other websites, often by being or providing access to a search engine.
  • adjective Of or relating to the portal vein or the portal system.
  • adjective Of or relating to a point of entrance to an organ, especially the transverse fissure of the liver, through which the blood vessels enter.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In anatomy: Pertaining to the hepatic porta, or great transverse fissure of the liver.
  • Pertaining to the vena portæ, or portal vein.
  • noun A door or gate; an entrance or opening for passage; specifically, the entire architectural treatment of the entrance and its surroundings of a great or splendid building, as a cathedral.
  • noun A square corner of a room separated from the rest by a wainscot, and forming a short passage or vestibule.
  • noun Same as portass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective (Anat.) Of or pertaining to a porta, especially the porta of the liver.
  • noun A door or gate; hence, a way of entrance or exit, especially one that is grand and imposing.
  • noun The lesser gate, where there are two of different dimensions.
  • noun Formerly, a small square corner in a room separated from the rest of the apartment by wainscoting, forming a short passage to another apartment.
  • noun By analogy with the French portail, used by recent writers for the whole architectural composition which surrounds and includes the doorways and porches of a church.
  • noun (Bridge Building) The space, at one end, between opposite trusses when these are terminated by inclined braces.
  • noun obsolete A prayer book or breviary; a portass.
  • noun (Bridge Building) a combination of struts and ties which lie in the plane of the inclined braces at a portal, serving to transfer wind pressure from the upper parts of the trusses to an abutment or pier of the bridge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A grandiose and often lavish entrance.
  • noun An entrance, entry point, or means of entry.
  • noun Internet A website that acts as an entrance to other websites on the Internet.
  • noun anatomy A short vein that carries blood into the liver.
  • adjective anatomy Of or relating to a porta, especially the porta of the liver.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a site that the owner positions as an entrance to other sites on the internet
  • noun a grand and imposing entrance (often extended metaphorically)
  • noun a short vein that carries blood into the liver


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin portāle, city gate, from neuter of portālis, of a gate, from Latin porta, gate; see per- in Indo-European roots. N., sense 3 and adj., from New Latin porta (hepatis), transverse fissure (of the liver), literally gate of the liver, perhaps ultimately translation of Akkadian bāb (ekalli), gate (of the palace), umbilical fissure of the liver (next to the transverse fissure).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Medieval Latin portale, from Latin porta


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  • Use of the word portal, from an essay on a Romanian myth about the building of a church: Ruxandra Ion and James William Anderson, The Myth of the Masterbuilder: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, in "Psychoanalysis and Architecture," ed. by J. Winer and J. Anderson, 2005.

    "In the Myth of the Masterbuilder, the Black Prince wants to build his church at the spot where something eerie has been happening. At this location, attempts to construct a building have failed, and dogs, who can sense otherworldly vibrations, “bark and bay” when they come nearby. A portal into the supernatural realm resides there. No simple building can withstand the forces that are at large. It is an apt location for a church, because a church encloses on earth a portion of the spiritual realm. But a church must be worthy of fulfilling this awesome role; it must be powerful and special in order to serve as God's dwelling."

    May 27, 2015