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Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin portale city gate, porch, from neuter of portalis of a gate, from Latin porta gate

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  • 1: door, entrance; especially : a grand or imposing one
  • 2: the whole architectural composition surrounding and including the doorways and porches of a church
  • 3: the approach or entrance to a bridge or tunnel
  • 4: a communicating part or area of an organism; specifically : the point at which something (as a pathogen) enters the body
  • 5: a site serving as a guide or point of entry to the World Wide Web and usually including a search engine or a collection of links to other sites arranged especially by topic


Portal is a general term describing an opening in the walls of a building, gate or fortification, and especially a grand entrance to an important structure. Doors, metal gates or portcullis in the opening can be used to control entry or exit. The surface surrounding the opening may be made of simple building materials or decorated with ornamentation. The elements of a portal can include the voussoir, tympanum, an ornamented mullion or trumeau between doors, and columns with carvings of saints in the westwork of a church.