AskDefine | Define guardhouse

Dictionary Definition

guardhouse n : a military facility that serves as the headquarters for military police and in which military prisoners can be detained

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The building housing military police
  2. A small security station, often at the entrance to a facility or a city.
  3. A military prison

Extensive Definition

A guardhouse (also known as a watch house, guard building, guard booth, guard shack, security booth, security building, or sentry building) is a building used to house personnel and security equipment. Guardhouses have historically been dormitories for sentries or guards, and places where sentries not posted to sentry posts wait "on call". Some guardhouses also function as jails.

Modern guard houses

In 21st century commercial, industrial, institutional, governmental, or residential facilities, guardhouses are generally placed at the entrance as checkpoints for securing and monitoring personnel and traffic.
One of the general orders of a sentry in the United States Navy and Marine corps is to "Repeat all calls more distant from the guardhouse than my own." Guardhouses thus serve as central communications hubs for sentry posts, being where the Corporal of the Guard is stationed. When sentries are relieved by their replacements, the sentry stationed at the guardhouse, designated "No. 1", is conventionally relieved first.

Historical guard houses

In the Fortress of Louisbourg in the 18th century, guardhouses were where sentries were stationed to eat and sleep between periods of sentry duty at the 21 sentry posts around the town. The town had five guardhouses (the Dauphine Gate, the townside entrance to the King's Bastion, the Queen's Gate, the Maurepas Gate, and the Pièce de la Grave), and whilst not sleeping sentries would be "on call" from those guardhouses at need.
In the guardhouse at Fort Scott National Historic Site, typical funishings for guard quarters included benches, tables, shelves, a platform bed for the men resting between assignments, arm racks, a fireplace or stove, and leather buckets (used for firefighting — another duty of guards). Prison cells were unfurnished, containing simply a slop bucket and iron rings on walls for the attachment of shackles.


Further reading

guardhouse in Czech: Strážní domek
guardhouse in Hebrew: ביתן שמירה
guardhouse in Lithuanian: Sargybinė

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

POW camp, bastille, black hole, borstal, borstal institution, bridewell, brig, cell, concentration camp, condemned cell, death cell, death house, death row, detention camp, federal prison, forced-labor camp, gaol, house of correction, house of detention, industrial school, internment camp, jail, jailhouse, keep, labor camp, lockup, maximum-security prison, minimum-security prison, oubliette, pen, penal colony, penal institution, penal settlement, penitentiary, prison, prison camp, prisonhouse, reform school, reformatory, sponging house, state prison, stockade, the hole, tollbooth, training school
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