Difference between Fort and Fortress

Key Difference: Forts are very similar to castles but they were exclusively used for military purposes. A fortress is a very large fort.

Agra-fort-smallFort and fortress are both nouns that are used in the English language. These two words have the same meaning, but many people get a little confused while using these terms. Let’s understand both the terms: Fort and Fortress.

Dictionary.com defines Fort as:

  • A strong or fortified place occupied by troops and usually surrounded by walls, ditches, and other defensive works; a fortress; fortification.
  • Any permanent army post.
  • (Formerly) a trading post.

Fort was derived from Old French, and is used as a singular form. It is used in the context when needs to mention only a single fort.

Dictionary.com defines Fortress as:

  • A large fortified place; a fort or group of forts, often including a town; citadel.
  • Any place of exceptional security; stronghold.

As mentioned in the above points, the fortress itself is a fort or it can also be referred to as a group of forts. In simple terms, a fort is a fortified building or strategic position. Whereas, a fortress is a military stronghold, especially a strongly fortified town fit for a large battalion.

Forts are very similar to castles but they were exclusively used for the military purposes. A fortress is a very large fort. It is a type of fortification which is larger than regular forts. They were built for the military to defend the location from the enemies from outside countries. It was mainly helpful in the older times when war unknowingly took place. Even now, the forts are very useful in wars or fights between two countries or regions.

Comparison between Fort and Fortress:





Forts were built for the primary motive of military purpose.

A fortress is a very large fort.


Fawrt or fohrt




Old French

Word meaning

Fortis - strong

Fortresse / fotrlesse – A strong place


It is built for the purpose of defending an area against attack.

It is a building or place that has been built, which is stronger and protected against attack.


  • The forts are the most precious thing man has built.
  • The Dutch expanded the fort thus creating a well old fortified harbor.
  • Fortress is one of the world’s largest private equity and hedge fund managers.
  • Excavation revealed a giant limestone cavern beneath the fortress.

Image Courtesy: indiculture.com, bible-history.com

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