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early 14 c., from Old French forteresce, forteresse, forterece "strong place, fortification" (12 c.), variant of fortelesse, from Medieval Latin fortalitia, from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort) + -itia, added to adjectives to form nouns of quality or condition. French -ess from Latin -itia also is in duress, largesse, riches. For change of medial -l- to -r- in Old French, compare orne "elm" from Latin ulmus; chartre from cartula; chapitre from capitulum.



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fortress (plural fortresses)

  1. A fortified place; a large and permanent fortification, sometimes including a town; a fort; a castle; a stronghold; a place of defense or security.
  2. (chess) A position that, if obtained by the weaker side, will prevent penetration by the opposing side, generally achieving a draw.


See also[edit]


fortress (third-person singular simple present fortresses, present participle fortressing, simple past and past participle fortressed)

  1. To furnish with a fortress or with fortresses; to guard; to fortify.