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[key-suh n, -son] /ˈkeɪ sən, -sɒn/
a structure used in underwater work, consisting of an airtight chamber, open at the bottom and containing air under sufficient pressure to exclude the water.
a boatlike structure used as a gate for a dock or the like.
  1. Also called camel, pontoon. a float for raising a sunken vessel, sunk beside the vessel, made fast to it, and then pumped out to make it buoyant.
  2. a watertight structure built against a damaged area of a hull to render the hull watertight; cofferdam.
a two-wheeled wagon, used for carrying artillery ammunition.
an ammunition chest.
a wooden chest containing bombs or explosives, used formerly as a mine.
Architecture. coffer (def 4).
Origin of caisson
1695-1705; < French, Middle French < Old Provençal, equivalent to caissa box (see case2) + -on augmentative suffix
Related forms
caissoned, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for caisson
Historical Examples
  • The men were down in the road, lifting the horses, dragging with them at gun and caisson.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • The guns stopped, the men got down from limber and caisson, the horses were unhitched.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • A caisson was struck, exploded with frightful glare and sound.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • As the batteries come up from the river see that every caisson is filled.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • It has two wheels, and carries ammunition the same as the caisson.

    My Days and Nights on the Battle-Field Charles Carleton Coffin
  • The fore carriage of the gun and that of the caisson are identical.

  • In another chapter we shall see how the caisson is operated.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
  • You cannot go into the caisson unless you are sound of heart and stout of body.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
  • It would be dangerous to come out from the caisson pressure quickly.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
  • The big gun was a wreck now—even the caisson with a broken wheel.

    The Hive

    Will Levington Comfort
British Dictionary definitions for caisson


/kəˈsuːn; ˈkeɪsən/
a watertight chamber open at the bottom and containing air under pressure, used to carry out construction work under water
a similar unpressurized chamber
a watertight float filled with air, used to raise sunken ships See also camel (sense 2)
a watertight structure placed across the entrance of a basin, dry dock, etc, to exclude water from it
  1. a box containing explosives, formerly used as a mine
  2. an ammunition chest
  3. a two-wheeled vehicle containing an ammunition chest
another name for coffer (sense 3)
Word Origin
C18: from French, assimilated to caissecase²
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 caisson

1704, from French caisson "ammunition wagon, box, crate," from Middle French caisson "large box" (16c.), from Italian cassone, augmentative form of cassa "a chest," from Latin capsa "a box" (see case (n.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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