[ sis-tern ]
/ ˈsɪs tərn /


a reservoir, tank, or container for storing or holding water or other liquid.
Anatomy. a reservoir or receptacle of some natural fluid of the body.


Nearby words

  1. cissy,
  2. cist,
  3. cistaceous,
  4. cistercian,
  5. cistercians,
  6. cistern barometer,
  7. cisterna,
  8. cisternal puncture,
  9. cisternography,
  10. cistron

Origin of cistern

1250–1300; Middle English cistern(e) < Latin cisterna, equivalent to cist(a) (see cist1) + -erna noun suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cistern

British Dictionary definitions for cistern


/ (ˈsɪstən) /


a tank for the storage of water, esp on or within the roof of a house or connected to a WC
an underground reservoir for the storage of a liquid, esp rainwater
anatomy another name for cisterna
Derived Formscisternal (sɪˈstɜːnəl), adjective

Word Origin for cistern

C13: from Old French cisterne, from Latin cisterna underground tank, from cista box

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 cistern



mid-13c., from Old French cisterne "cistern; dungeon, underground prison" (12c., Modern French citerne), from Latin cisterna "underground reservoir for water," from cista "chest, box," from Greek kiste "box, chest" (see chest).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for cistern


[ sĭstərn ]


A cisterna.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.