country on the west side of the Iberian peninsula, late 14c., Portyngale, from Medieval Latin Portus Cale (the Roman name of modern Oporto), "the port of Gaya," from Latin portus "harbor, port" (see port (n.1), also port (n.5)). Alfonso, Count of Portucale, became the first king of Portugal.
Entries linking to Portugal
"a bay, cove, inlet, or recess of a large body of water where vessels can load and unload and find shelter from storms; a harbor, whether natural or artificial," Old English port "a port, harbor, a place where there is a constant resort of vessels for the purpose of loading and unloading;" also "a town, market town, city," reinforced by Old French port "harbor, port; mountain pass." The Old English and Old French words both are from Latin portus "a port, harbor," figuratively "haven, place of refuge, asylum" (in Old Latin also "a house;" in Late Latin also "a warehouse"), originally "an entrance, a passage," akin to porta "a city gate, a gate, a door" (from PIE *prtu- "a going, a passage," suffixed form of root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over").
[I]in law, a place where persons and merchandise are allowed to pass into and out of the realm and at which customs officers are stationed for the purpose of inspecting or appraising imported goods. In this sense a port may exist on the frontier, where the foreign communication is by land. [Century Dictionary]
The figurative sense "place, position, or condition of refuge" is attested in English from early 15c.; phrase any port in a storm, indicating "any refuge is welcomed in adversity," is by 1749. A port of call (1810) is one paid a scheduled visit by a vessel in the course of its voyage. The verb meaning "to carry or bring into a port" is by 1610s.
1610s, the language of Portugal, also (1620s) a resident of Portugal; 1660s as an adjective, "of or pertaining to Portugal," from Portuguese Portuguez (see Portugal + -ese). The ending was vulgarly mistaken for a plural in English, and false singular Portugee (by 1821) was formed. Compare Chinee from Chinese; also portegue, portague (1530s), name of a gold coin from Portugal, apparently also a false singular. For Portuguese man-of-war, see man-of-war.