cis·​tern | \ ˈsi-stərn How to pronounce cistern (audio) \

Definition of cistern

1 : an artificial reservoir (such as an underground tank) for storing liquids and especially water (such as rainwater)
2 : a large usually silver vessel formerly used (as in cooling wine) at the dining table
3 : a fluid-containing sac or cavity in an organism

Examples of cistern in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web An extensive rain harvesting system captures 100% of water runoff that’s stored in a 7,000-gallon underground cistern and used for outdoor irrigation and the indoor aquaponics system. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Central Tempe home near ASU with indoor garden and rooftop pool is LEED Platinum certified. Take a look," 26 Dec. 2019 The tanks were also supplied with extra seawater from a cistern, the regional director of antiquities and leader of the excavations, Chryssa Sofianou, told Live Science. Fox News, "Gold and jewels found on Minoan Island devoted to the color purple," 12 Dec. 2019 The Arch Cape neighborhood’s supply is piped from cisterns that sit about 50 to 75 feet into the woods, under Highway 101 and into private pump houses that filter and pressurize it for supply to the homes. oregonlive, "Failing forestry: Oregon wanted to clearcut above their water supply. The plan’s on hold for now.," 28 Sep. 2019 Those people are essentially entirely reliant for secure access to food, medical consumables, books that appear in schools, spare parts for water cisterns, for everything basically, on the cross-border operation. Joseph Hincks / Gaziantep, Time, "The Turkish Invasion of Syria Shows the U.N. Is Struggling to Keep Up With Humanitarian Crises," 14 Oct. 2019 Tillamook Row also has three rain-catching cisterns to irrigate the community garden and much of the property's drought-resistant landscaping year-round. oregonlive, "Tour old, new zero-energy homes that make more power than they use," 7 Oct. 2019 Susiya’s residents were also cut off from their cisterns and barred from digging new ones, Mr. Nawajah said. David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, "Touring the Israeli Occupation: Young U.S. Jews Get an Unflinching View," 10 July 2019 The archeologists weren't able to do a full excavation of the cistern. Janelle Walker, Elgin Courier-News, "Archaeologists at Elgin's Kimball House after cistern discovered, yielding clues about the past," 30 Mar. 2018 Or homeowners may install rain barrels or even cisterns in their cellars to store storm water till the threat has passed. Cornelia Dean, New York Times, "‘We Cannot Save Everything’: A Historic Neighborhood Confronts Rising Seas," 8 July 2019

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cistern

Middle English, from Latin cisterna, from cista box, chest — more at chest

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Time Traveler for cistern

Time Traveler

The first known use of cistern was in the 13th century

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Statistics for cistern

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cistern.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for cistern


How to pronounce cistern (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cistern

US : an underground container that is used for collecting and storing rainwater
British : a tank that holds the water for a toilet
British : a tank on the roof of a building that holds water for the building


cis·​tern | \ ˈsi-stərn How to pronounce cistern (audio) \

Kids Definition of cistern

: an artificial reservoir or tank for storing water usually underground


cis·​tern | \ ˈsis-tərn How to pronounce cistern (audio) \

Medical Definition of cistern

: a fluid-containing sac or cavity in an organism

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More from Merriam-Webster on cistern

Spanish Central: Translation of cistern

Nglish: Translation of cistern for Spanish Speakers

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

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