AskDefine | Define drawbridge

Dictionary Definition

drawbridge n : a bridge that can be raised to block passage or to allow boats or ships to pass beneath it [syn: lift bridge]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A bridge which can be raised to prevent it being crossed, often across a moat.


See also

Extensive Definition

A drawbridge is a type of movable bridge typically associated with the entrance of a castle. The term is often used to describe all different types of movable bridges, like bascule bridges and lift bridges.


Drawbridges may be used to withdraw passage across (rather than allow passage beneath), as is found in military fortifications, and this is the most common use of the term. Simple drawbridges may be found in short canal crossings, where the lifting mechanism is a pair of overhead beams with counterweights that are not a part of the bridge's load bearing structure. The most common type of drawbridge consists of a wooden platform with one fixed side (normally with a hinge), and the other side attached to the wall from a floor higher than the drawbridge.
In the Middle Ages, drawbridges were often used to allow or deny access across a moat or ditch. They could be let down to allow people across, or pulled up to deny entry into the castle.

Road and rail

Now, with cars and trains in need of crossing small waterways without blocking boats from passing, drawbridges have a more peaceful reason for their existence.
In Queensland, diamond crossings between narrow gauge cane tramways and main lines are being replaced by drawbridges, so that the rails of the main line are completely unbroken by gaps or weak spots. This also allows the main line speeds to be raised.
Another rail use of drawbridges was on the Listowel and Ballybunion railway in Ireland. This was a sort of monorail, where trains hung on either side of a fence-like track. Road crossings were either a gate-like Stuart section of track or twin drawbridges, that allowed crossing at rail level. A vertical lift drawbridge at Mossdale in California was the actual final link in the first transcontinental railway and was opened a few monts later than the Golden Spike ceremony at Promentory.


Magere Brug (a double drawbridge) in Amsterdam

See also

drawbridge in Czech: Padací most
drawbridge in Welsh: Pont godi
drawbridge in German: Zugbrücke
drawbridge in French: Pont-levis
drawbridge in Japanese: 跳ね橋
drawbridge in Dutch: Valbrug
drawbridge in Norwegian: Vindebro
drawbridge in Swedish: Vindbrygga

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bifrost, abatis, advanced work, balistraria, bank, banquette, barbed-wire entanglement, barbican, barricade, barrier, bartizan, bascule bridge, bastion, bateau bridge, battlement, breastwork, bridge, bulwark, cantilever bridge, casemate, catwalk, cheval-de-frise, circumvallation, contravallation, counterscarp, curtain, demibastion, dike, earthwork, enclosure, entanglement, escarp, escarpment, fence, fieldwork, floating bridge, flyover, footbridge, fortalice, fortification, gangboard, gangplank, gangway, glacis, lift bridge, loophole, lunette, machicolation, mantelet, merlon, mound, outwork, overbridge, overcrossing, overpass, palisade, parados, parapet, pontoon bridge, portcullis, postern gate, rampart, ravelin, redan, redoubt, rope bridge, sally port, scarp, sconce, span, stepping-stone, stepstone, stockade, suspension bridge, swing bridge, tenaille, toll bridge, vallation, vallum, viaduct, work
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