a cave, especially one that is large and mostly underground.
Pathology. a cavity that is produced by disease, especially one produced in the lungs by tuberculosis.

verb (used with object)

to enclose in or as if in a cavern.
to hollow out to form a cavern.

Origin of cavern

1325–75; Middle English caverne < Latin caverna, equivalent to cav(us) hollow + -erna, as in cisterna cistern Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cavern

pothole, cave, grotto, hole, subterrane

Examples from the Web for cavern

Contemporary Examples of cavern

Historical Examples of cavern

  • It was soothing to his eyes, so used to the darkness of the Nibelungs' cavern.

  • In an instant they fled into the darkest corner of the cavern.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew

    Josephine Preston Peabody

  • The Sibyl placed them in rows on the ledges of rock inside the cavern.

    Classic Myths

    Mary Catherine Judd

  • Charley was a few yards ahead of me, and ran stooping into the cavern.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • All around the dais, seated on the sloping floor of the cavern, were Lakonians.

    Priestess of the Flame

    Sewell Peaslee Wright

British Dictionary definitions for cavern



a cave, esp when large and formed by underground water, or a large chamber in a cave

verb (tr)

to shut in or as if in a cavern
to hollow out

Word Origin for cavern

C14: from Old French caverne, from Latin caverna, from cavus hollow; see cave 1
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 cavern

late 14c., from Old French caverne (12c.) "cave, vault, cellar," from Late Latin caverna "cave," from Latin cavus "hollow" (see cave (n.)). In Old English such a land feature might be called an eorðscræf.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cavern in Science



A large cave.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.