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(initial capital letter) a fortress in Paris, used as a prison, built in the 14th century and destroyed July 14, 1789.
any prison or jail, especially one conducted in a tyrannical way.
a fortified tower, as of a castle; a small fortress; citadel.
Contemporary Examples

The bloody effervescence of the bastille gave way to Robespierre and then Napoleon; Stalin crushed Trotsky.
You Say You Want a Revolution? Christopher Dickey June 22, 2013

Neither the bastille nor the Beatles could inspire us to overhaul life itself.
Russell Brand: Not Quite a Messiah James Poulos October 27, 2013

Witness a brown cardboard sign held high on Sunday night at the bastille.
Francois Hollande: France’s Anti-Sarkozy President Tracy McNicoll May 6, 2012

Anyone hoping to learn what bastille Day is all about would do well to start here.
Vive la France! Andrew Carter July 13, 2011

With a fine (if unnoticed) stroke of irony, the bill was signed into law on bastille Day, July 4.
Snowden Deserves the Medal of Freedom, Not Prosecution Jay Parini June 7, 2014

Historical Examples

This catalogue, containing fifty-three names, is the oldest list of prisoners of the bastille known up to the present time.
Legends of the Bastille Frantz Funck-Brentano

You did good service at the taking of the bastille, citizen?
A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

It was the rule that prisoners newly arrived at the bastille should be examined within twenty-four hours.
Legends of the Bastille Frantz Funck-Brentano

The greater part of their servants have been sent to the bastille.
The Memoirs of the Louis XIV. and The Regency, Complete Elizabeth-Charlotte, Duchesse d’Orleans

In the winter, for being second in a duel, he was sent to the bastille.
The Memoirs of Louis XIV., His Court and The Regency, Complete Duc de Saint-Simon

a fortress in Paris, built in the 14th century: a prison until its destruction in 1789, at the beginning of the French Revolution

14c. Paris prison destroyed by revolutionaries on July 14, 1789, French, literally “fortress, tower” (see bastion).
Bastille [(ba-steel)]

A prison in Paris where many political and other offenders were held and tortured until the time of the French Revolution. It was attacked by workers on July 14, 1789, during the revolution; the prisoners were released, and the building was later demolished.

Note: The anniversary of the attack, Bastille Day, is the most important national holiday in France.


A jail or prison

[1880s+; fr the former French royal prison]


Read Also:

  • Bastille day

    July 14, a national holiday of the French republic, commemorating the fall of the Bastille in 1789. noun (in France) an annual holiday on July 14, commemorating the fall of the Bastille

  • Bastille house

    bastel house. (on the Anglo-Scottish border) a partly fortified house, usually with a vaulted ground floor.

  • Bastinade

    bastinado. Historical Examples This Jacob had been condemned to the bastinade, or knout, by Schein, the Russian general. The History of Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia Voltaire

  • Bastinado

    a mode of punishment consisting of blows with a stick on the soles of the feet or on the buttocks. a blow or a beating with a stick, cudgel, etc. a stick or cudgel. to beat with a stick, cane, etc., especially on the soles of the feet or on the buttocks. Historical Examples She […]

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