Definition of cesspool in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsesˌpo͞ol/


1An underground container for the temporary storage of liquid waste and sewage.
Example sentences
  • The Appellant owns and uses two tractors for the purpose of his business of emptying cesspools and discharging the waste on agricultural land.
  • Physicians attributed the primary cause of disease to miasmas emanating from sewage, cesspools, or rotting vegetable matter.
  • Place tight covers over cisterns, cesspools, septic tanks, fire barrels, rain barrels and tubs where water is stored.
1.1A disgusting or corrupt place: they should clean out their own political cesspool
More example sentences
  • Our whole system is nothing but a corrupt cesspool of legalized bribery!
  • Hersh's work won him a Pulitzer, and he's continued digging into military and political cesspools, including the CIA's bombing of Cambodia and its actions against Chile's Salvador Allende.
  • But whether the Cabinet falls or not, Czechs know that very little will change, for the cesspool that is Czech political culture runs very deep indeed.


Late 17th century (denoting a trap under a drain to catch solids): probably an alteration, influenced by pool1, of archaic suspiral 'vent, water pipe, settling tank', from Old French souspirail 'air hole', based on Latin sub- 'from below' + spirare 'breathe'.

  • A cesspool, in early use, meant a trap under a drain to catch solids. It is perhaps an alteration, influenced by pool, of archaic suspiral ‘vent, water pipe, settling tank’, from Old French souspirail ‘air hole’ from Latin sub- ‘from below’ and spirare ‘breathe’. Mid 19th-century cesspit was formed from cesspool. The old Irish expression bad cess meaning ‘a curse on’ is unconnected. It may be a shortening of assess ( see size). In the 15th century the native Irish had to supply their English rulers with goods at prices ‘assessed’ by the government. The shortening cess then became a word for ‘tax’, indicating how fair people thought the assessment was.

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