kur·​gan | \ ku̇r-ˈgän, -ˈgan \

Definition of kurgan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a burial mound of eastern Europe or Siberia


geographical name
Kur·​gan | \ ku̇r-ˈgan, -ˈgän\

Definition of Kurgan (Entry 2 of 2)

city on the Tobol River and the Trans-Siberian Railroad in southwestern Russia in Asia population 333,600

Examples of kurgan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An ancient problem Looting is an old tradition on the steppe—as old as the oldest kurgans themselves. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Satellites watch over the graves of ancient steppe nomads," 26 Dec. 2018 The two apparent plague victims were buried together in a kurgan: a wooden chamber beneath a mound of earth. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "4,000-year-old genomes point to origins of bubonic plague," 12 June 2018 That group consisted of herders from the Asian steppes, whose skeletons and genes are known from their burial mounds called kurgans. Jared Diamond, New York Times, "A Brand-New Version of Our Origin Story," 20 Apr. 2018 The preliminary dig suggests the structure is the relatively undisturbed kurgan—a tomb of a Scythian prince. Mika Mckinnon, Smithsonian, "Scythian Prince’s Sprawling Tomb Found in the “Siberian Valley of the Kings”," 22 Jan. 2018 The tomb, named Tunnug 1 (or Arzhan 0), could be the oldest and largest kurgan yet found in southern Siberia. Mika Mckinnon, Smithsonian, "Scythian Prince’s Sprawling Tomb Found in the “Siberian Valley of the Kings”," 22 Jan. 2018

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


1889, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kurgan


Russian, of Turkic origin; akin to Turkish kurgan fortress, castle

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for kurgan

The first known use of kurgan was in 1889

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More from Merriam-Webster on kurgan

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kurgan

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about kurgan

Comments on kurgan

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


to gather or build up little by little

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