cav·​ern | \ˈka-vərn also -vrən \

Definition of cavern 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: cave especially : one of large or indefinite extent


caverned; caverning; caverns

Definition of cavern (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to place in or as if in a cavern

2 : to form a cavern of : hollow used with out

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Synonyms for cavern

Synonyms: Noun

antre, cave, delve [archaic], grot, grotto

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Examples of cavern in a Sentence


a cavern with beautiful stalactites

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After nine long days of tireless efforts by the Royal Thai Navy, aided by at least seven foreign governments, they were discovered on a dry ledge several miles inside the cavern by a pair of British divers. Time, "'I Love You Mom, I Love You Dad.' Trapped Thai Soccer Team Sends Handwritten Notes From the Cave," 8 July 2018 Cave rescuers in the Southeast have watched with apprehension and relief as the 12 boys trapped in a Thailand cavern have been extricated, one by one. Bo Emerson, ajc, "Cave rescuers in Southeast watch their Thai colleagues with admiration," 10 July 2018 In 1993, a cavern at Cliff Cave County Park near St. Louis flooded during a thunderstorm, killing four children and two adults. John Keilman,, "As Thailand cave crisis continues, Midwestern cavers reflect on the risks of going subterranean," 6 July 2018 The soccer team is believed to have walked at least 3 miles and reached a large cavern known as Pattaya Beach. Richard C. Paddock,, "Thailand cave rescue effort to continue, prime minister tells families," 29 June 2018 Around the world, ramblers and cave explorers often stumble across new caverns, and sinkholes open up without warning on suburban streets. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "What Lies Beneath? Vague Mapping Complicates Thai Cave Rescue," 8 July 2018 Geologists placed tracer dyes in the underground rivers and learned the cavern aquifer extends 4 miles east to White Oak Sinks, in the isolated valley of Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the North Carolina line. John Bordsen, USA TODAY, "North Korean nukes tracked from Tennessee tourist caverns," 13 Apr. 2018 After they were located deep in the cavern, Decker reached out to one of the officials leading rescue efforts and got authorization to dispatch his team. Dan Murtaugh, The Seattle Times, "U.S. firm helps Thais to pump water from cave to save boys," 9 July 2018 Late Friday, Thai officials were still trying to come up with a workable extraction plan for the group trapped for nearly two weeks deep inside the cavern, stoking fears that all available options remain too risky. Shibani Mahtani,, "Cave rescue stalls as death of Thai diver underscores perils," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the hunt, scientists have erected detectors in a South Dakota cavern a mile underground, at the bottom of Lake Baikal in Siberia, under a mountain in Japan, and on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Scientists Track Neutrinos Through Ice to Their Source in the Cosmos," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cavern.' 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 cavern


14th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cavern


Middle English caverne, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin caverna "hollow space, crevice, tree hole, cave," from cavus "hollow, sunken" + -erna, noun-forming suffix of uncertain origin — more at hole entry 1


derivative of cavern entry 1

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Statistics for cavern

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cavern

The first known use of cavern was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cavern



English Language Learners Definition of cavern

: a large cave


cav·​ern | \ˈka-vərn \

Kids Definition of cavern

: a cave often of large or unknown size


cav·​ern | \ˈkav-ərn \

Medical Definition of cavern 

: a cavity (as in the lung) caused by disease

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More from Merriam-Webster on cavern

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cavern

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cavern

Spanish Central: Translation of cavern

Nglish: Translation of cavern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cavern for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cavern

Comments on cavern

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


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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