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A Word A Day — palisade

August 15, 2012

Word of the Day

  • palisade
  • audio pronunciation
  • \pal-uh-SAYD\


a : a fence of stakes especially for defense b : a long strong stake pointed at the top and set close with others as a defense
: a line of bold cliffs

"The biggest structure on the lot was a palisade made from wood harvested on the property, making the entrance look like a fortified structure." — From an article by Annie J. Kelley in the Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer, July 11, 2012

"What is known as Wenlock Edge, a great palisade, almost 1,000 feet high, running for 15 miles through the county of Shropshire, overlooks, near its eastern end, the tidy town of Much Wenlock." — From an article by Frank Deford in Smithsonian, July-August 2012


"Palisade" derives via French from the Latin noun "palus," meaning "stake." The word originally applied to one of a series of stakes set in a row to form an enclosure or fortification. "The Palisades" is also the name given to the line of traprock cliffs that stretches for about 15 miles along the western bank of the Hudson River in southeastern New York and northern New Jersey. Purportedly, these cliffs got their name from the resemblance of the tall rocks to rows of stakes or trees, although who exactly came up with the name is a matter of dispute. Before long "palisade" came to refer to any similar formation of tall cliffs.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.