Definition of cairn in English:

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Pronunciation: /kern/


1A mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hilltop or skyline.
Example sentences
  • Elation was to glimpse limp prayer flags and rough cairns with goat horns that marked the pass.
  • Now, their pyramid-shaped middens, or mussel-shell dumps, stand along the coastline like memorial cairns.
  • Twelve stone cairns decorate the otherwise bare summit of Castle Dow, a tree - clad hill which lies in the clench of the River Tay just south of Grandtully.
1.1A prehistoric burial mound made of stones.
Example sentences
  • Skara Brae is a well-preserved prehistoric village, Maes Howe the best of a series of impressive prehistoric burial cairns, and numerous brochs and settlements attest to the islands' Pictish and Viking periods.
  • Caithness is well known to archaeologists for its Neolithic chambered burial cairns.
  • South of the fort is a cross-ridge dyke, and in the area traversed by the path there are burial cairns and prehistoric field boundaries.
2 (also cairn terrier) A small terrier of a breed with short legs, a longish body, and a shaggy coat.
Perhaps so named from being used to hunt among cairns
Example sentences
  • If the German Shepherd and Doberman stood on top in their numbers, the breeds like the wire-haired fox terrier, smooth-haired fox terrier, cairn terrier and Rhodesian Ridgeback were all loners.
  • We had an awesome cairn terrier / Jack Russell mix that was preternaturally intelligent, capable of stunning tricks (including climbing trees), but he wouldn't fetch a stick for any reward.
  • Much of the known early history of the cairn terrier, like that of the Skye terrier, centers on the island of Skye.


Late Middle English: from Scottish Gaelic carn.

Words that rhyme with cairn

Auvergne, bairn
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