What It Is:
: an urn with a spigot at its base used especially in Russia to boil water for tea
About the Word:
The Russian ancestor of samovar translates roughly as "self boiler." This 18th century Russian invention traditionally heated water by means of an internal tube containing burning charcoal. After the boiling water was poured into a teapot, the teapot might be placed atop the samovar to keep warm.
The Russian town of Tula was so famous for its manufacture of samovars that Anton Chekhov joked "Going to Paris with one's wife is like going to Tula with one's samovar" – a Russian version of "carrying coals to Newcastle."