clois·​ter | \ ˈklȯi-stər How to pronounce cloister (audio) \

Definition of cloister

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a monastic establishment
b : an area within a monastery or convent to which the religious are normally restricted
c : monastic life young men and women choosing the cloister as a way of life
d : a place or state of seclusion … the Internet broke out of its academic cloister and started cavorting in the mainstream.— Paul McFedries
2 : a covered passage on the side of a court usually having one side walled and the other an open arcade or colonnade The courtyard is surrounded with a cloister.


cloistered; cloistering\ ˈklȯi-​st(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce cloister (audio) \

Definition of cloister (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to seclude from the world in or as if in a cloister a scientist who cloisters herself in a laboratory policy makers are cloistered for the weekend, trying to stave off a default that they fear could trigger an international financial panic— Art Pine
2 : to surround with a cloister cloistered gardens

Illustration of cloister

Illustration of cloister


cloister 2

In the meaning defined above

Synonyms for cloister

Synonyms: Noun

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Cloister first entered the English language as a noun in the 13th century; it referred then (as it still does) to a convent or monastery. More than three centuries later, English speakers began using the verb cloister to mean "to seclude in or as if in a cloister." Today, the noun can also refer to the monastic life or to a covered and usually arched passage along or around a court. You may also encounter cloistered with the meaning "surrounded with a covered passage," as in "cloistered gardens." Cloister ultimately derives from the Latin verb claudere, meaning "to close." Other words that can be traced back to the prolific claudere include close, conclude, exclude, include, preclude, seclude, and recluse.

Examples of cloister in a Sentence

Noun monks living in a cloister in the country
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For me, coming from the hilly cloister of late ’80s Pittsburgh, smokestacked and river-rich, this desert landscape was a lesson in possibility, proof that there were parallel universes beyond my imagining, just as Mom promised. New York Times, 12 May 2022 Silent men were observed about the country, or discovered in the forest, digging, clearing, and building; and other silent men, not seen, were sitting in the cold cloister, . . . Andrew Doran, National Review, 3 Mar. 2022 The ceiling is tall and arched, like the hallways of a cloister, and offers acoustics befitting a motet. Gregory Barber, Wired, 10 Feb. 2022 Behind the cloister seal, the sisters gossip and backstab each other, sneak out and throw parties, driven mad by men but mostly each other. Elle Carroll, Vulture, 6 Dec. 2021 Stroll through the ancient stone rooms and imagine the lives of the monks who lived, worshiped and meditated along the stunning cloister and gardens. Washington Post, 29 Oct. 2021 Even in isolation, in the cloister of a closed set, Sui’s clothes are commanding. Susan Dominus Photographs By Joshua Kissi Styled By Ian Bradley Sasha Weiss Photographs By Collier Schorr Styled By Jay Massacret Megan O’grady Portrait By Mickalene Thomas And Racquel Chevremont Ligaya Mishan Photographs By Tina Barney, New York Times, 14 Oct. 2021 The square shape gives it a cloister, with open space surrounded by the five apartments (one with two bedrooms), a tasting area, a restaurant, barrel halls and technical areas. Ann Abel, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 The canopy of leaves creates a sort of cloister around the pool, a shady respite. USA Today, 2 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With coronavirus infection almost nonexistent in China, according to official statistics, Beijing has no epidemiological reason to cloister Olympic participants. Jonathan Kolatch, WSJ, 13 Oct. 2021 Correctly used, quarantine describes the period of time when people who think they’ve been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 are supposed to cloister themselves—a precaution in case an infection manifests. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 8 Oct. 2021 A year of extremes, 2020 has driven some people to claim the streets and others to cloister at home. Washington Post, 2 Oct. 2020 In addition to being cloistered inside with their abuser, job and financial losses can inflame stress. Casey Tolan, CNN, 4 Apr. 2020 Fears of Covid-19 then kept them both cloistered in the mother’s studio apartment. Dan Chiasson, The New York Review of Books, 15 May 2020 Want to take a walk but cloistered inside because of the pandemic? Judith H. Dobrzynski, WSJ, 2 May 2020 As people cloister in their homes and practice social distancing, 72% of domestic workers report being out of work, according to the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Ryan Prior, CNN, 21 Apr. 2020 With folks cloistered at home, there could be some money in delivering for other platforms such as Grubhub or DoorDash. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cloister.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cloister


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cloister

Noun and Verb

Middle English cloistre, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin claustrum, from Latin, bar, bolt, from claudere to close — more at close entry 1

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

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cloister.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cloister


clois·​ter | \ ˈklȯi-stər How to pronounce cloister (audio) \

Kids Definition of cloister

2 : a covered passage with arches along or around the walls of a courtyard

More from Merriam-Webster on cloister

Nglish: Translation of cloister for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cloister


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