PORT, (i) (From the Lat. portus, harbour), a place to which ships may resort for the unloading or taking in of cargo, or for shelter, a harbour, also a town possessing such a harbour, a " seaport," or " seaport town," especially one where customhouse officers are stationed. As the name of a dark red Portuguese wine, the word is a shortened form of Oporto, i.e. the port, the chief centre of the wine-shipping trade of Portugal (see WINE). (2) (Through the Fr. porte, from Lat. porta, gate), an entrance or opening, not often used in the sense of gate, except in such compounds as " sallyport," cf. " portcullis," and in the derivative " porter," a keeper of a door or gate, especially of a public building, hotel, college, etc. The most general use of the word is for an opening for the admission of light and air in a ship's side, and formerly in ships of war for an embrasure for cannon, a " port-hole." For the application of the word to the left side of a ship, taking the place of the earlier " larboard," and its disputed origin, see STARBOARD AND LARBOARD. (3) (Through the Fr. porter, from Lat. portare, to carry, bear), properly outward bearing or deportment, whence " portly," originally of dignified or majestic bearing, now chiefly used in the sense of stout or corpulent. The verb " to port " is only used as a military term " to port arms," i.e. to hold the rifle across and close to the body, the barrel being placed opposite to the left shoulder. Derivatives are " port-fire " (Fr. porte-feu), a fuse for firing rockets, etc., and formerly for the discharge of artillery, and " porter," i.e. one who carries a burden, particularly a servant of a railway company, hotel, etc., who carries passengers' luggage to and from a station, etc. The term " porter " has been applied, since the 18th century, to a particular form of beer, dark brown or almost black in colour (see BEER and BREWING). The finer kinds of this beer are generally now known as " stout." The name is almost certainly due to the fact that it was from the first a favourite drink among the London " porters," the street carriers of goods, luggage, etc., and in early uses the drink is called porter's ale, porter's beer, or porter-beer.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)