a reservoir, tank, or container for storing or holding water or other liquid.
Anatomy. a reservoir or receptacle of some natural fluid of the body.

1250–1300; Middle English cistern(e) < Latin cisterna, equivalent to cist(a) (see cist1) + -erna noun suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cistern (ˈsɪstən)
1.  a tank for the storage of water, esp on or within the roof of a house or connected to a WC
2.  an underground reservoir for the storage of a liquid, esp rainwater
3.  anatomy another name for cisterna
[C13: from Old French cisterne, from Latin cisterna underground tank, from cista box]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

mid-13c., from O.Fr. cisterne, from L. cisterna "underground reservoir for water," from cista "chest," from Gk. kiste "box, chest" (see chest).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cistern cis·tern (sĭs'tərn)
A cisterna.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Cistern definition

the rendering of a Hebrew word _bor_, which means a receptacle for water conveyed to it; distinguished from _beer_, which denotes a place where water rises on the spot (Jer. 2:13; Prov. 5:15; Isa. 36:16), a fountain. Cisterns are frequently mentioned in Scripture. The scarcity of springs in Palestine made it necessary to collect rain-water in reservoirs and cisterns (Num. 21:22). (See WELL.) Empty cisterns were sometimes used as prisons (Jer. 38:6; Lam. 3:53; Ps. 40:2; 69:15). The "pit" into which Joseph was cast (Gen. 37:24) was a _beer_ or dry well. There are numerous remains of ancient cisterns in all parts of Palestine.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
Indeed, since the citadel collapsed into a natural underground cistern.
It flushes with two litres of water, compared with the ten litres required by a
  standard cistern toilet.
If you don't have a dual flush toilet put a brick into the cistern to reduce
The cistern was built more than a thousand years ago with pieces of
  already-ancient temples and churches.
Image for cistern
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