- a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.
Origin of cairn
1525–35; earlier carn < Scots Gaelic: pile of stones; perhaps akin to horn
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for cairn
Clawbonny and Bell walked to the cairn with picks in their hands.
Clawbonny and Bell, armed with their pickaxes made for the cairn.The English at the North Pole
He would begin to-morrow with the cairn for the rock-plants.Deerbrook
The remainder pushed on to Cape Herschel, and left a record in a cairn.
In a cairn on the point Fitzjames placed a brief record, and that is all.
- a mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker
- Also called: cairn terrier a small rough-haired breed of terrier originally from Scotland
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
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