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Look at this above picture, a complex of several tall buildings has a gate. Vehicles go in and out through that gate and there is some security guards standing on watch there to make sure only vehicles belonging to people living there can go through.

The gate has a shorter bar (see the black line) and a longer bar (the red line). The shorter bar is where motorbikes or bicycles go through and the longer one is for cars or trucks.

I don't know what the name of the gate is. So, I just say like this to my children.

"Oh, today the small block gate got broken, so we have to go through the bigger one"

Is it correct to say that?

  • 1
    Just "gate" would be easily understood in context. You're making your common mistake of "overspecifying".
    – James K
    Commented Apr 4 at 6:42
  • Why are you calling it a "block gate"? Is this a phrase you've heard? Are you using the term because it's the gate specifically for the apartment block? It's hard to tell from the picture exactly what the gate controls entrance to, but if it is a gate for a block then "block gate" would be OK. Although if you want to modify it with "large" or "small" then it's different : "a small block gate" is likely to be a gate to a small block; "the small gate to the block" is better.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 4 at 14:41
  • Called by whom? What does the average person call it?
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 5 at 11:26
  • No. It's a "barrier". If you want to be more specific, perhaps a "security barrier", an "entry/entrance barrier", a "car park barrier", or "barrier arms" for the physical parts that move up and down.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Apr 5 at 12:05
  • @Tom What if you take off "turnpike" from "a turnpike road" and use "a turnpike" alone (...today the small turnpike got broken...). You may also like "lift gate", "crossing keep", "swing-beam", "gate arm".
    – Eugene
    Commented Apr 5 at 15:38

4 Answers 4


These are commonly called barrier arms and are part of the carpark gantry barrier system.

Oh, today the short barrier arm is down (is broken, or isn't working), so we have to go through the long one.

is down, is broken, or isn't working sounds better than got broken.

  • Or you could say "is broken". The problem is not "broken" but "got". "Got" means to acquire something, like, "I got a new car" or "I got the flu". But "broken" is not a thing that can be acquired. It is an adjective, not a noun.
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 4 at 4:21
  • Thanks, @Jay. Got is sometimes overused and at times even used to mean BE, which is not right. Commented Apr 4 at 4:39
  • Sure. I recall my sister once said of some mechanical device, "It bees broken". So I said, "Please, use proper grammar. You should say, It bees DONE broken."
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 4 at 15:36

Its a Boom Gate or Barrier

A boom barrier, also known as a boom gate, is a bar, or pole pivoted to allow the boom to block vehicular or pedestrian access through a controlled point.

A boom was/is a floating navigational barrier across a river or harbour to control the entry of ships. In medieval times, they were used as toll barriers and in warfare, they were used to block the passage of enemy warships right through to modern times. And a gate was, well, a gate.

  • 1
    This certainly seems like the most official answer! Though as a native speaker I never knew it and I suspect most others who don't work with them wouldn't. Commented Apr 4 at 17:56
  • Yes, this is the technical term. What are car park barriers called? Car park barriers are commonly referred to as automatic barriers, boom barriers, or gate barriers. They are designed to control and monitor vehicle access in car parks and other areas where traffic control is needed. faac.co.uk/….
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 5 at 14:20

As @Seowjooheng Singapore said the red-and-white arms are barriers, or traffic barrier arms if you want to be very specific.

If you said "block gate" to me I'd assume you were talking about the entire structure: two barriers, guardhouse, pedestrian gate ect. It's not a super common phrase, I have not heard it before, but it wouldn't be incorrect. See for example "city gate", the word for the entire complex around the entrance to a medieval city.

Now if you said "the block gate is broken" I'd assume the entire guard structure is non-functional, maybe the electricity is out and nothing functions.


In the US, people could call the little building with its gate a "booth" or "ticket booth" by analogy with a turnpike toll booth, and they would be likely to call the barrier that goes up to let the car pass simply the "gate" or the "ticket gate" again by analogy with a turnpike "toll gate". Few speakers would use any terms more precise than that.

I waited and waited for the ticket gate to go up but it never did so I pressed the green button but nobody came.

If you have to use a keypad to enter a code and no ticket is involved, "booth" and "gate" are the likely terms.

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