a cistern, well, or pit for retaining the sediment of a drain or for receiving the sewage from a house.
any filthy receptacle or place.
any place of moral filth or immorality: a cesspool of iniquity.

Origin of cesspool

1575–85; cess (< Italian cesso privy < Latin rēcessus recess, place of retirement) + pool1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cesspool

cesspit, sump

Examples from the Web for cesspool

Contemporary Examples of cesspool

Historical Examples of cesspool

  • Scattering flowers upon a cesspool of iniquity will not purify it.

    Gipsy Life

    George Smith

  • I should be the first to be ready to clean out any cesspool you like.

    Crime and Punishment

    Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • The "cesspool question" had already been a subject of dispute between them.

    Crime and Punishment

    Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • When we pass a cesspool we close our noses and try not to breathe.

    A Family of Noblemen

    Mikhal Saltykov

  • All the vice and misery of the country got thrown into that cesspool.


    Henry Kingsley

British Dictionary definitions for cesspool


cesspit (ˈsɛsˌpɪt)


Also called: sink, sump a covered cistern, etc, for collecting and storing sewage or waste water
a filthy or corrupt placea cesspool of iniquity

Word Origin for cesspool

C17: changed (through influence of pool 1) from earlier cesperalle, from Old French souspirail vent, air, from soupirer to sigh; see suspire
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 cesspool

also cess-pool, 1670s, the first element perhaps an alteration of cistern, perhaps a shortened form of recess [Klein]; or the whole may be an alteration of suspiral (c.1400), "drainpipe," from Old French sospiral "a vent, air hole," from sospirer "breathe," from Latin suspirare "breathe deep" [Barnhart]. Meaning extended to "tank at the end of the pipe," which would account for a possible folk-etymology change in final syllable.

Other possible etymologies: Italian cesso "privy," from Latin secessus "place of retirement" (in Late Latin "privy, drain"); dialectal suspool, from suss, soss "puddle;" or cess "a bog on the banks of a tidal river."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper