\ ˈkern How to pronounce cairn (audio) \

Definition of cairn

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

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Other Words from cairn

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

Examples of cairn in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Images now show a cairn, a stack or mound of stones built as a memorial or landmark, where the monolith once stood. NBC News, "Mysterious monolith in rural Utah has vanished, officials say," 29 Nov. 2020 It's now been replaced by a cairn, a stack mound of stones built as a memorial or landmark, where the 10-foot monolith once stood. NBC News, "Biden names all-female communications team, health officials fear post-Thanksgiving Covid surge," 30 Nov. 2020 The road tops out on a bald knob where a huge cairn made of cinders denotes the mountain’s high point. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, "The views on this AZ hike will take your breath away, if you have any left. It's steep," 17 Sep. 2020 The largest of these cavernous, chambered tombs—a cairn called Maeshowe—is particularly impressive. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why Were This Ancient Scottish Tomb’s Chambers Built Upside Down?," 9 Sep. 2020 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

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for cairn

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

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Cite this Entry

“Cairn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for cairn



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

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