port

Definitions

General English

Aviation

  • noun the left-hand side of an aircraft when facing forwards when inside the aircraft

Cars & Driving

  • noun generally, any opening through which air or fluid passes; specifically, the opening in the cylinder of a hydraulic valve and the precision-made hole (jet) in the wall of a carburettor barrel.

Computing

  • noun a socket or physical connection allowing data transfer between a computer’s internal communications channel and another external device

Construction

  • In electronics, a point of entry into a network or switch.

Economics

  • The facility at which ships dock and transfer cargo and passengers to and from land.

Electronics

  • A point or opening which provides an input, output, or interface. For example, an I/O port, a speaker port, or an input to an electric network.
  • An input, output, or other point where a signal or energy can be provided to, or taken from, a circuit or system. For instance, a point where a meter may be placed for readings.
  • An input, output, or interface between a computer and a peripheral, another computer, or a network. For instance, a data port.
  • An input, output, or interface between a CPU and a peripheral. For example a USB port, or a serial port. Also called I/O port.
  • To modify a program so that it can function properly within a different system or architecture.
  • A carefully-dimensioned opening in a loudspeaker enclosure. It is employed for various purposes, but it is mainly used to increase and extend the reproduction of low frequencies. Also called speaker port, duct (5), ducted port, or vent (3).
  • An opening in a waveguide through which energy can be fed to, or taken from. For example, an opening utilized to take measurements. Also called waveguide port.

Food

  • A fortified wine from Portugal made by stopping the fermentation of full-bodied grape juice with brandy before all the sugar has been fermented to alcohol. Used as a flavouring in sauces and served with melon.

Military

  • noun a harbour, containing docks and other facilities for the loading and unloading of ships

Travel

  • noun a harbour, a place where ships come to load or unload
  • noun a dessert wine from Portugal, usually served after a meal
  • noun the left-hand side of a ship when facing the bow, also used of the left-hand side of an aircraft

Wine

  • a sweet fortified wine produced by adding grape alcohol to a fermenting wine to stop the fermentation process and retain a high level of natural sugar, producing a sweet wine with high levels of alcohol (usually around 20 per cent per unit volume). Port originated in the Douro valley region of northern Portugal and European Union law restricts use of the term to a defined area there, though port-style wines are made elsewhere in the world. Port was traditionally shipped from the city of Porto (Oporto). Port is produced as a red wine and a white wine, with two effective methods of ageing, either in wooden casks (or in cheaper versions sometimes cement tanks) or in bottle. Port aged in wood is ready to drink immediately after filtration and bottling; port intended to age in bottle spends some time in wood then is bottled without filtration. The wine has four basic styles: white, tawny, ruby and vintage port. White port is produced using white grapes such as Malvasia and Verdelho and can be in a dry or sweet style. Dry white port is produced by increasing the fermentation period, so reducing the residual sugar levels. The three red-wine ports are made using a range of different grapes including Tinta Barroca and Tempranillo (Tinta Roriz). Tawny port is made from a blend of grapes produced in different years and can be aged in barrels for between 10 and 40 years. Vintage port is made from the best grapes from the best areas of a vineyard harvested in a single year and bottled within two years – not all years are considered worthy of turning into vintage port, but if the producer considers it a good year, he or she will ‘declare’ this a vintage year. Ruby port is made from lower-quality grapes from the vineyard and is aged for two years before bottling. Ruby ports have the most fruit in their flavour and tend to be a brighter red colour; tawny ports are a dark reddish-brown colour and can age well; vintage ports can age for 50 years or longer. Within these basic styles of port, there are four categories of quality: single-quinta port is produced from a single estate in a non-vintage year; second label vintage port is produced from a single estate when the producer thinks the grapes are very good but not quite of a quality for a declared vintage; late bottled vintage (LBV) port is produced from grapes grown in one year and then aged in barrels for between four and seven years; crusted ports are blended from wines produced in different years and then allowed to age in the bottle for three or four years, where a sediment, or crust, develops; vintage character ports are blended from several different vintages and retain the character and style of a ruby port. Bottle-aged ports (vintage, crusted and some late bottled vintage wines) need to be decanted before drinking.

Origin & History of “port”

English has no fewer than five distinct words port, all of them going back to the Latin stem port-, a descendant of the Indo-European base *por- ‘going, passage’ (from which English also gets fare, ford, etc). Based on this stem was portus ‘harbour’ (etymologically a ‘place by which one enters’), which was borrowed into English as port ‘harbour’ (OE). It is thought that the nautical port ‘left’ (17th c.) originally denoted the side of the vessel facing harbour. And port the drink (17th c.) gets its name from Oporto (literally ‘the port’), the town at the mouth of the river Douro in Portugal through which port is shipped. From Latin portus was derived the verb portāre, which presumably originally meant ‘bring into port’, but by classical times had broadened out to simply ‘carry’. This gave English the military verb port ‘carry’ (16th c.), and also underlies deport (15th c.), export (15th c.), import, important, portable (14th c.), portfolio (18th c.) (etymologically a ‘carrier of leaves’ or papers), portly (16th c.), portmanteau, report, and transport. Also from portus comes English opportunity.

From the same stem came Latin porta ‘gate, door’, which reached English via Old French porte as port ‘gate’ (13th c.). It came to be applied in the 14th century to an ‘opening in the side of a ship’, and it is now most commonly encountered in the compound porthole (16th c.). Portal (14th c.) and portcullis are among its descendants.
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