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 Initially, the government said that Escobar died by accidentally falling into the cistern and drowning. Mariana Limón Rugerio,, 3 May 2022 Then, the cherries’ flesh is removed, and the remaining seeds — known widely as beans — go to a cistern to ferment. New York Times, 20 May 2022 How the Devil’s Hole pupfish has survived for centuries in a spa-like cistern cloistered by a barren rock mountain in Death Valley National Park remains a biological mystery. Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2022 Two Tijuana artists painted a large mural honoring young Debanhi Escobar, who after 13 days missing was found dead in late April in a motel cistern in Nuevo León, México. Alexandra Mendozawriter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 May 2022 The cistern not only has a unique history, but also provides a great backdrop for unique art installations and musical performances. Rebecca Treon, Chron, 20 Apr. 2022 Buffalo Bayou Partnership keeps about a foot-and-a-half of water in the bottom of the cistern. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Dec. 2021 Since there was no running water in Hanga Roa—and no ponds, streams, or lakes—the Rapu family collected rainwater in a cistern. Longreads, 19 Jan. 2022 The cistern was decommissioned in 2007 after an irreparable leak was discovered. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

7 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cistern.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for cistern


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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