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

Here, the couple stores two 300-gallon water cisterns tucked under a weeping birch tree and plants more than 500 square feet of garden beds with vegetables and flowers. Amy Pennington, The Seattle Times, "A couple’s Rainier Beach garden is a place of creativity, vision and function," 19 May 2019 The home has a geothermal heating and cooling system and two cisterns that capture and reuse rainwater for irrigation. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Another Ultraluxury Mansion Heads to the Auction Block," 1 Oct. 2018 There are solar panels, a desalination plant, and a cistern to collect the rainwater that holds half a million gallons. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Inside Tory Burch’s Lovingly Restored Antigua Getaway," 15 Aug. 2018 The building's dirt floors were being excavated to prepare for concrete when the cistern was found. Janelle Walker, Elgin Courier-News, "Archaeologists at Elgin's Kimball House after cistern discovered, yielding clues about the past," 30 Mar. 2018 Some people reclined under palm trees, while others drew water from a cistern for makeshift baths. Kate Linthicum,, "These are the Central American migrants in Trump's crosshairs," 5 Apr. 2018 The roofs of the headquarters and a few of the neighboring buildings are outfitted with large gutters that collect and distribute rainwater to a 7,300-gallon cistern on the eighth floor of the Etsy building. Caroline Biggs, New York Times, "Plant-Loving Millennials at Home and at Work," 9 Mar. 2018 Looking at the aerial images, Stott and his colleagues discovered fragments of another aqueduct flowing into the city's southwest quarter, which would probably have supplied a rock cistern there. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Decades of aerial photos reveal how an ancient desert city got its water," 30 May 2018 The park includes a community garden with onions, beets, kale and herbs, among other vegetables the public is welcome to take, a 7,000-gallon stormwater cistern and a stage for performances. Diana Dombrowski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "An inside look at the Walker's Point community arts center renovation," 2 July 2018

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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Statistics for cistern

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for cistern

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

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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

Comments on cistern

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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