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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Bawn \Bawn\, n. [Ir. & Gael. babhun inclosure, bulwark.]

  1. An inclosure with mud or stone walls, for keeping cattle; a fortified inclosure. [Obs.]

  2. A large house. [Obs.]


Etymology 1 n. 1 A cattle-fort; a building used to shelter cattle. 2 A defensive wall built around a tower house. It was once used to protect livestock during an attack. Etymology 2

part.p. (eye dialect of born English)


A bawn is the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house. It is the anglicised version of the Irish word bábhún (sometimes spelt badhún), possibly meaning "cattle-stronghold" or "cattle-enclosure". The Irish word for "cow" is and its plural is ba. The Irish word for "stronghold, enclosure" is dún, whose possessive case is dhún, in this case rendering the d silent.

The original purpose of bawns was to protect cattle from attack. They included trenches that were often strengthened with stakes or hedges. Over time, these were gradually replaced by walls. The name then began to be used for the walls that were built around tower houses.

Usage examples of "bawn".

A curtain wall surrounded the bawn, as the castle courtyard is known in Ireland, and stables and outhouses had been built inside the enclosed perimeter.

He squared his shoulders in the new blue livery, drew his whip downwards across the towing horse and out into the waters slipped the Colleen Bawn at a good four miles an hour.

Every few years Lough Bawn had a habit of disappearing for a whole year.

It was seldom now that a visiting carriage came dri vine through the water-filled bawn to cleanse its wheels before the return journey.

She told him about the silver drinking cup that the old hermit of Bawn na Drum Castle had shown her.

Then to cover his emotion he told them of the silver cup he had got from his foster-mother that was a replica of the one owned by the hermit of Bawn na Drum.

When he was coming into the bawn at dinner-time, what work did he find Jack at but pulling armfuls of the thatch off the roof, and peeping into the holes he was making?

Wuz bawn on de Collier plantashun en Marster en Missis wuz James en Jeanette Collier.

I returned when she was safely outside the Bawn, leaving Wilson Fallingleaves and Dale Talons to keep watch over her.

We tracked her in from well outside the Bawn and there was no sign of the cameraman.

And one night I went in with a fellow into one of their musical evenings, song and dance about she could get up on a truss of hay she could my Maureen Lay and there was a fellow with a Ballyhooly blue ribbon badge spiffing out of him in Irish and a lot of colleen bawns going about with temperance beverages and selling medals and oranges and lemonade and a few old dry buns, gob, flahoolagh entertainment, don't be talking.

It has even been used on me: My foster-sister Arianeira used it to break the Curtain Wall and let the Imperial armadas into the Bawn of Keltia.

I thought I was seeing double, for a man as like Canyd Bawn as two leaves of the same tree-save for having two sound shoulders-was weaving in and out, stroking each of the Libyans in turn, as if introducing himself to them.

When they rode into the bawn seconds later, they were met by the sight of Christian de Guevain, a Paris-based merchant banker who shared Fitzduane's interest in medieval weaponry-de Guevain's specialty being the longbow-getting out of a taxi festooned with fishing rods and other impedimenta.

Once and for all, I'll have no college swankies (you see, I am well voiced in love's arsenal and all its overtures from collion boys to colleen bawns so I have every reason to know that rogues' gallery of nightbirds and bitchfanciers, lucky duffs and light lindsays, haughty hamiltons and gay gordons, dosed, doctored and otherwise, messing around skirts and what their fickling intentions look like, you make up your mind to that) trespassing on your danger zone in the dancer years.