cairn

[kairn]
noun
a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.
Also, carn.


Origin:
1525–35; earlier carn < Scots Gaelic: pile of stones; perhaps akin to horn

cairned, adjective
cairny, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
cairn (kɛən)
 
n
1.  a mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker
2.  Also called: cairn terrier a small rough-haired breed of terrier originally from Scotland
 
[C15: from Gaelic carn]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

cairn
1530s, from Scottish carne, from Gael. carn "heap of stones, rocky hill," akin to Gaul. karnon "horn," from PIE base *ker-n- "highest part of the body, horn," thus "tip, peak" (see horn).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

cairn

a pile of stones that is used as a boundary marker, a memorial, or a burial site. Cairns are usually conical in shape and were often erected on high ground. Burial cairns date primarily from the Neolithic Period and the Early Bronze Age. Cairns are still used in some parts of the world as burial places, particularly where the soil is difficult to excavate or where wild animals might disturb the body. The term cairn is sometimes used interchangeably with barrow, and its usage is not well defined. See also barrow; burial mound.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
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.
Matching Quote
"Once also it was my business to go in search of the relics of a human body, mangled by sharks, which had just been cast up, a week after a wreck, having got the direction from a lighthouse: I should find it a mile or two distant over the sand, a dozen rods from the water, covered with a cloth, by a stick stuck up. I expected that I must look very narrowly to find so small an object, but the sandy beach, half a mile wide, and stretching farther than the eye could reach, was so perfectly smooth and bare, and the mirage toward the sea so magnifying, that when I was half a mile distant the insignificant sliver which marked the spot looked like a bleached spar, and the relics were conspicuous as if they lay in state on that sandy plain, or a generation had labored to pile up their cairn there. Close at hand they were simply some bones with a little flesh adhering to them, in fact only a slight inequality in the sweep of the shore. There was nothing at all remarkable about them, and they were singularly inoffensive both to the senses and the imagination. But as I stood there they grew more and more imposing. They were alone with the beach and the sea, whose hollow roar seemed addressed to them, and I was impressed as if there was an understanding between them and the ocean which necessarily left me out, with my snivelling sympathies. That dead body had taken possession of the shore, and reigned over it as no living one could, in the name of a certain majesty which belonged to it."
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