Definition of cistern in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsɪstən/


1A tank for storing water, especially one supplying taps or as part of a flushing toilet.
Example sentences
  • It is a water-saving device you fit in your toilet cistern so that less water is used for flushing.
  • The Court of Appeal held that although the escape of water was a consequence of the maintenance of the cistern and water supply by the landlord, it was not a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment.
  • Everything they needed to survive was inside: stores of food, cisterns of water, and strategically-placed air holes.
tank, reservoir, container;
vat, butt
1.1An underground reservoir for rainwater.
Example sentences
  • Many had wells or cisterns for collecting rainwater.
  • The city's greatest find, though, lay hidden beneath the surface: four immense, underground water cisterns.
  • Rain flowing from the roof is collected in an underground cistern and reused.


Middle English: from Old French cisterne, from Latin cisterna, from cista 'box' (see cist).

  • chest from Old English:

    The Greek word kistē, ‘box or basket’, is the source of chest. Not until the 16th century was the same word applied to the part of your body enclosed by the ribs and breastbone, acting as a protective ‘box’ for the heart, lungs, and other organs. Cistern (Middle English) is from the same root.

Words that rhyme with cistern

Liston, piston, Wystan

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cis|tern

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