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[kloi-ster] /ˈklɔɪ stər/
a covered walk, especially in a religious institution, having an open arcade or colonnade usually opening onto a courtyard.
a courtyard, especially in a religious institution, bordered with such walks.
a place of religious seclusion, as a monastery or convent.
any quiet, secluded place.
life in a monastery or convent.
verb (used with object)
to confine in a monastery or convent.
to confine in retirement; seclude.
to furnish with a cloister or covered walk.
to convert into a monastery or convent.
Origin of cloister
1250-1300; Middle English cloistre < Anglo-French, Old French, blend of cloison partition (see cloisonné) and clostre (< Latin claustrum barrier (Late Latin: enclosed place); see claustrum)
Related forms
cloisterless, adjective
cloisterlike, adjective
3. abbey, priory. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cloister
  • It was a stable block, not a cloister and terrace walks.
  • But at that moment it was as calm and quiet as a monastery cloister.
  • The monastic school for externs was in a building apart from the cloister.
  • These were connected with the original library building with a cloister.
  • Twenty-eight stalls selling sweet regional delights fill this bazaar, housed in the corridors of an old cloister.
  • The now-moldering cloister will be preserved because of its importance, while demolition proceeds above it.
  • The hotel has an extensive shopping area in an arcaded cloister near the main lobby.
  • In addition to the church and cloister, the wings of the building are home to an archaeological museum and a marine museum.
  • The stone structure consists of a semi-circular stone cloister supported by stone columns.
  • The walls of the cloister have fallen before the cries of a rising womanhood.
British Dictionary definitions for cloister


a covered walk, usually around a quadrangle in a religious institution, having an open arcade or colonnade on the inside and a wall on the outside
(sometimes pl) a place of religious seclusion, such as a monastery
life in a monastery or convent
(transitive) to confine or seclude in or as if in a monastery
Derived Forms
cloister-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French cloistre, from Medieval Latin claustrum monastic cell, from Latin: bolt, barrier, from claudere to close; influenced in form by Old French cloison partition
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 cloister

early 13c., from Old French cloistre "monastery, convent; enclosure" (12c., Modern French cloître), from Medieval Latin claustrum "portion of monastery closed off to laity," from Latin claustrum (usually in plural, claustra) "place shut in, enclosure; bar, bolt, means of shutting in," from past participle stem of claudere (see close (v.)).

"The original purpose of cloisters was to afford a place in which the monks could take exercise and recreation" [Century Dictionary]. Spelling in French influenced by cloison "partition." Old English had clustor, clauster in the sense "prison, lock, barrier," directly from Latin, and cf. from the same source Dutch klooster, German Kloster, Polish klasztor.


c.1400 (implied in cloistered), from cloister (n.). Figurative use from c.1600. Related: Cloistered; cloistering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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