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[sis-tern] /ˈsɪs tərn/
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cisterns
  • It would greatly reduce the contaminants you may be receiving in storm water or cisterns.
  • Yellow tubes connect together a number of tanks and cisterns, around which coloured water can be pumped.
  • cisterns capture and store rainwater for landscape irrigation.
  • Placed underground or above ground, cisterns generally hold much larger amounts of water than rain barrels.
  • In the meantime, some cisterns will remain unused and the focus will turn to landscaping.
  • They gathered water from cisterns of abandoned homes.
  • The water collection system was broken and fouled by the use of cisterns as dwellings for less privileged inhabitants.
  • Blowouts routinely rained sulfur and brine onto the houses, into the cisterns, over the trees.
  • For centuries this rock-dry city depended for water on a vast number of underground cisterns.
  • Water from the cell house roof drains to a downspout, that is then directed to the gray water cisterns.
British Dictionary definitions for cisterns


a tank for the storage of water, esp on or within the roof of a house or connected to a WC
an underground reservoir for the storage of a liquid, esp rainwater
(anatomy) another name for cisterna
Derived Forms
cisternal (sɪˈstɜːnəl) adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French cisterne, from Latin cisterna underground tank, from cista box
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 cisterns



mid-13c., from Old French cisterne "cistern; dungeon, underground prison" (12c., Modern French citerne), from Latin cisterna "underground reservoir for water," from cista "chest, box," from Greek kiste "box, chest" (see chest).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cisterns in Medicine

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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cisterns in the Bible

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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