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[kairn] /kɛərn/
a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.
Also, carn.
Origin of cairn
1525-35; earlier carn < Scots Gaelic: pile of stones; perhaps akin to horn
Related forms
cairned, adjective
cairny, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cairn
  • Some economists are still patiently adding to a cairn of knowledge.
  • He died on the mountain named after him, where the maidens buried him under a great cairn on the mountaintop.
  • Signs in rocky areas should be mounted on a post seated in an excavated hole or supported by a well-constructed cairn.
  • Try to locate the next cairn before the last one is lost from view.
  • The intersection is marked with a sign and large cairn.
  • Always have the next cairn in sight before leaving the one you are.
  • The scalp of an enemy was suspended above the rock cairn on a pole.
  • The cairn terrier quickly became popular and has remained so ever since.
  • cairn terriers have a strong prey instinct and will need comprehensive training.
  • cairn terriers generally adapt well to children and are suitable family dogs.
British Dictionary definitions for cairn


a mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker
Also called cairn terrier. a small rough-haired breed of terrier originally from Scotland
Word Origin
C15: from Gaelic carn
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
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Word Origin and History for cairn

1530s, from Scottish carne, from Gaelic carn "heap of stones, rocky hill," akin to Gaulish karnon "horn," from PIE root *ker-n- "highest part of the body, horn," thus "tip, peak" (see horn (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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