\ ˈkern How to pronounce cairn (audio) \

Definition of cairn

: a heap of stones piled up as a memorial or as a landmark

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cairn

cairned \ ˈkernd How to pronounce cairned (audio) \ adjective

Examples of cairn in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These scant details were gleaned from a note the crew left in a cairn. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian Magazine, "Divers Recover More Than 350 Artifacts From the HMS ‘Erebus’ Shipwreck," 24 Feb. 2020 How did a cairn or loose pile of stones at Walden Pond become an ongoing public monument honoring Thoreau? Jeremy Engle, New York Times, "Lesson of the Day: ‘Lessons in Constructive Solitude From Thoreau’," 16 Apr. 2020 At the top of the rise, go left where two big cairns mark the unsigned junction of the Spring Valley and Hermit trails. Jill Cassidy, azcentral, "Hells Canyon Wilderness hike near Phoenix feels a million miles away. Here's how to do it," 7 Feb. 2020 Giant stone cairns mark old pathways once used by traders to find their way through fog and heavy snow. New York Times, "Warming Climate in Norway Reveals Relics of Ancient Viking Trade Route," 16 Apr. 2020 How does the Walden cairn have the power to bring us together? 6. Jeremy Engle, New York Times, "Lesson of the Day: ‘Lessons in Constructive Solitude From Thoreau’," 16 Apr. 2020 The four-mile route, which reaches an altitude of more than 6,000 feet, is now marked only by ancient cairns, piles of reindeer antlers and bones, and the foundations of a stone shelter. Tom Metcalfe, Scientific American, "Melting Ice Reveals a “Lost” Viking-Era Pass in Norway’s Mountains," 16 Apr. 2020 Pilø’s team discovered multiple cairns—stacked rock formations designed to help people who were unfamiliar with the terrain find and navigate the pass on longer journeys throughout Scandinavia. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 15 Apr. 2020 Fictional viruses spread across the world in a matter of days, turning domiciles into cairns and highways into parking lots, lined with cars filled with corpses that may or may not eat your face off. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Flesh-eating apocalyptic films and shows didn’t prepare us for this pandemic’s horror," 2 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cairn.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cairn

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cairn

Middle English (Scots) carne, from Scottish Gaelic carn; akin to Old Irish & Welsh carn cairn

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cairn

Time Traveler for cairn

Time Traveler

The first known use of cairn was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for cairn

Last Updated

23 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cairn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cairn


How to pronounce cairn (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cairn

: a pile of stones that marks a place (such as the place where someone is buried or a battle took place) or that shows the direction of a trail

More from Merriam-Webster on cairn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cairn Encyclopedia article about cairn

Comments on cairn

What made you want to look up cairn? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!