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A castle


From Middle English castle, castel, from Old English castel, castell (a town, village, castle), borrowed from Late Latin castellum (small camp, fort), diminutive of Latin castrum (camp, fort, citadel, stronghold), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *kat- (hut, shed). Parallel borrowings (from Late Latin or Old French) are Scots castel, castell (castle), West Frisian kastiel (castle), Dutch kasteel (castle), German Kastell (castle), Danish kastel (citadel), Swedish kastell (citadel), Icelandic kastali (castle), Welsh castell. The Middle English word was reinforced by Anglo-Norman/Old Northern French castel, itself from Late Latin castellum (small camp, fort) (compare modern French château from Old French chastel). If Latin castrum (camp, fort, citadel, stronghold) is from Proto-Indo-European *kat- (hut, shed), Latin casa (cottage, hut) is related. Possibly related also to Gothic 𐌷𐌴𐌸𐌾𐍉 (hēþjō, chamber), Old English heaþor (restraint, confinement, enclosure, prison). See also casino, cassock.



castle (plural castles)

  1. A large building that is fortified and contains many defences; in previous ages often inhabited by a nobleman or king.
  2. (chess) An instance of castling.
  3. (shogi) A defense structure in Japanese chess in which the king (玉) is positioned in a certain way so that it is protected by pawns (歩) and silver general(s) (銀) and/or gold general(s) (金) often with an additional knight (桂) and lance (香車).
  4. (chess, informal) A rook; a chess piece shaped like a castle tower.
  5. (obsolete) A close helmet.
    • 1786, Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, page 12:
      The castle was perhaps a figurative name for a close headpiece deduced from its enclosing and defending the head, as a castle did the whole body; or a corruption from the Old French word casquetel, a small or light helmet.
  6. (dated) Any strong, imposing, and stately mansion.
  7. (dated) A small tower, as on a ship, or an elephant's back.

Usage notesEdit

For the chess piece, chess players prefer the term rook.


Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit

Chess pieces in English · chess pieces, chessmen (see also: chess) (layout · text)
king queen castle, rook bishop knight pawn


castle (third-person singular simple present castles, present participle castling, simple past and past participle castled)

  1. (chess) To perform the move of castling.
    • 1835, William Lewis, Chess for Beginners, London: Chapman and Hall, chapter 5, 24:
      No. 24. ¶ If your adversary make a false move, castle improperly, &c., you must take notice of such irregularity before you move, or even touch a piece, or you are no longer allowed to inflict any penalties.
  2. (cricket) To bowl a batsman with a full-length ball or yorker such that the stumps are knocked over.
    • 2009, Lightning Bolt blows over Gayle, BBC Sport:
      And the 23-year-old brought the crowd to their feet when he castled Gayle's stumps, signalling the direction of the pavilion to his friend for good measure.
    • 2011, Firdose Moonda, A day for missed hat-tricks, ESPNcricinfo:
      He bowled Vinay with a with a full, straight ball that castled off stump and then dished up a yorker that RP Singh backed away to and sent onto his stumps.