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A castle


From Middle English castle, castel, from Old English castel, castell, cæstel, ċeastel ‎(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). 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. (chess, informal) A rook; a chess piece shaped like a castle tower.
  4. (obsolete) A close helmet.
    • 1786, Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, p. 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.
  5. (dated) Any strong, imposing, and stately mansion.
  6. (dated) A small tower, as on a ship, or an elephant's back.

Usage notes[edit]

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


Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Chess pieces in English · chess pieces, chessmen (see also: chess) (layout · text)
♟ ♞ ♝ ♜ ♛ ♚
pawn knight bishop castle, rook queen king



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, page 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.