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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Barbette \Bar*bette"\, n. [F. Cf. Barbet.] (Fort.) A mound of earth or a platform in a fortification, on which guns are mounted to fire over the parapet.

En barbette, In barbette, said of guns when they are elevated so as to fire over the top of a parapet, and not through embrasures.

Barbette gun, or Barbette battery, a single gun, or a number of guns, mounted in barbette, or partially protected by a parapet or turret.

Barbette carriage, a gun carriage which elevates guns sufficiently to be in barbette. [See Illust. of Casemate.]


n. 1 A mound of earth or a platform in a fortification, on which guns are mounted to fire over the parapet. 2 (context nautical English) The inside fixed trunk of a warship's gun-mounting, on which the turret revolves. It contains the hoists for shells and cordite from the shell-room and magazine.


n. (formerly) a mound of earth inside a fort from which heavy gun can be fired over the parapet


Barbettes are several types of gun emplacement in terrestrial fortifications or on naval ships.

In recent naval usage, a 'barbette' is a protective circular armour support for a heavy gun turret. This evolved from earlier forms of gun protection that eventually led to the pre-dreadnought. The name ultimately comes from fortification, originally meaning a raised platform or mound, seen in the French phrase en barbette, which refers to the practice of firing a cannon over a parapet rather than through an embrasure in the fortification. The former gives better angles of fire but less protection than the latter. The disappearing gun was a variation on the barbette gun; it consisted of a heavy gun on a carriage that would retract behind a parapet or into a gunpit for reloading. They were primarily used in coastal defences, but saw some use in a handful of warships, and some inland fortifications. The term is also used for certain aircraft gun mounts.

Shipboard barbettes were primarily used in armoured warships starting in the 1860s during a period of intense experimentation with other mounting systems for heavy guns at sea; alternatives included the heavily armored gun turret and an armored, fixed central gun battery. By the late 1880s, all three systems were replaced with a hybrid barbette-turret system that combined the benefits of both types. The heavily-armored vertical tube that supported the new gun mount was referred to as a barbette.

Guns with restricted arcs of fire mounted in heavy bombers during World War II—such those in the tail of the aircraft, as opposed to fully revolving turrets—were also sometimes referred to as having barbette mounts, though usage of the term is primarily restricted to British publications. American authors generally refer to such mounts simply as tail guns or tail gun turrets.

Barbette (performer)

Barbette (December 19, 1898 – August 5, 1973) was an American female impersonator, high-wire performer, and trapeze artist born in Texas on December 19, 1899. Barbette attained great popularity throughout the United States but his greatest fame came in Europe and especially Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s.

Barbette began performing as an aerialist at around the age of 14 as one-half of a circus act called The Alfaretta Sisters. After a few years of circus work, Barbette went solo and adopted his exotic-sounding pseudonym. He performed in full drag, revealing himself as male only at the end of his act.

Following a career-ending illness or injury, Barbette returned to Texas but continued to work as a consultant for motion pictures as well as training and choreographing aerial acts for a number of circuses. After years of dealing with chronic pain, Barbette committed suicide on August 5, 1973. Both in life and following his death, Barbette served as an inspiration to a number of artists including Jean Cocteau and Man Ray.

Barbette (disambiguation)

Barbette may refer to:

  • Barbette, protective armour around a heavy naval gun, a type of land-based gun mount or gun position, or certain aircraft gunmounts.
  • HMAS Barbette (P 97), was an Attack class patrol boat of the Royal Australian Navy
  • Barbette (headdress) a type of medieval headdress, worn in the 13th century

Usage examples of "barbette".

A painter would have stopped to admire the night effects of this scene, but Marie, not wishing to enter into conversation with Barbette, who sat up in bed and began to show signs of amazement at recognizing her, left the hovel to escape its fetid air and the questions of its mistress.

When they reached the summit of the rocks of Saint-Sulpice Barbette set fire to the pile of fagots, and the boy helped her to pile on the green gorse, damp with hoarfrost, to make the smoke more dense.

Hulot was saying to Barbette, who had sought him out as soon as she had reached Fougeres.

Corentin, who was with Hulot, looked towards the summit in the direction pointed out by Barbette, and, as the fog was beginning to lift, he could see with some distinctness the column of white smoke the woman told of.

I also hastily consulted Barbette on surgery, not wishing to have to refer to a book of instruction in mid-operation, as this does not reassure the patient.

Passing under the thatched barbette over the front door, Dixon averted his eyes from a picture Welch had recently bought and talked about and which now hung in the hall.

The Theodore Roosevelt let fly at once with the big guns in her forward barbette, but the shells burst far below the Vogel-stern, and forthwith a dozen single-man drachenflieger were swooping down to make their attack.

Twelve thousand tons displacement, four 250-mm rifles in twin turrets fore and aft, eight 175mm in four twin-tube wing turrets, eight 155mm in barbette mounts on either side, 200mm main belt, face-hardened alloy steel.

Each had a barbette with a raised edge in the center and the stubby muzzle of a heavy fortress howitzer protruding from it.

Winnipeg port authorities had installed two 20-cm plasma cannon on separate armored barbettes in the center of the civil field.

Breakfast dishes went flying, shattering, mess tables upended, lockers spilled open, and in the belowdeck barbettes, massive gun turrets tore free from their housings and tumbled grindingly down the slanting platforms, crushing crewmen.

The barbettes and magazines below those turrets carried only anti-lander ammunition, solid bolts of depleted uranium.

What possesses the Royal Navy to keep on putting their twelve-inch guns in barbettes instead of turrets?

When they put it into one of these fifteen-thousand-tonners and change from barbettes to good rotational turrets, they’ll have a real battleship.

Rising again, the beams exploded against the black-and-white-striped hull, then rose higher still to the first row of barbettes.