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[kairn] /kɛərn/
a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.
Also, carn.
Origin of cairn
1525-35; earlier carn < Scots Gaelic: pile of stones; perhaps akin to horn
Related forms
cairned, adjective
cairny, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cairn
Historical Examples
  • Clawbonny and Bell walked to the cairn with picks in their hands.

  • Clawbonny and Bell, armed with their pickaxes made for the cairn.

  • He would begin to-morrow with the cairn for the rock-plants.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • In a cairn on the point Fitzjames placed a brief record, and that is all.

    Notable Voyagers W.H.G. Kingston and Henry Frith
  • The remainder pushed on to Cape Herschel, and left a record in a cairn.

    Notable Voyagers W.H.G. Kingston and Henry Frith
  • Presently there loomed before him, gleaming in the moonlight, the cairn.

    The Cock-House at Fellsgarth Talbot Baines Reed
  • But father has just lived in his own house of cairn Ferris all his life.

    Patsy S. R. Crockett
  • Build up the cairn, ye active youths, for victory is with us.

  • Each man, by Charles's order, carried a stone to lay on Manfred's cairn.

  • True, it was the only friend I had then; but for it an attempt to have built the cairn would have been vain.

    The Boy Tar Mayne Reid
British Dictionary definitions for cairn


a mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker
Also called cairn terrier. a small rough-haired breed of terrier originally from Scotland
Word Origin
C15: from Gaelic carn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cairn

1530s, from Scottish carne, from Gaelic carn "heap of stones, rocky hill," akin to Gaulish karnon "horn," from PIE root *ker-n- "highest part of the body, horn," thus "tip, peak" (see horn (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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