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A rainwater cistern.
A wine cistern.


From Middle English cisterne, from Old French cisterne (Modern French citerne) from Latin cisterna, from cista (box), from Ancient Greek κίστη (kístē, box). Doublet of cisterna.



cistern (plural cisterns)

  1. A reservoir or tank for holding water, especially for catching and holding rainwater for later use.
    • 1913, A.C. Cotter, Catholic Encyclopedia, "Wells in Scripture",
      Their extreme necessity is attested by the countless number of old, unused cisterns with which the Holy Land is literally honeycombed.
    • 2001, Philip J. King, Lawrence E. Stager, chapter 3, in Life in Biblical Israel, →ISBN, page 126:
      Cisterns (bôr, bō'r), mentioned frequently in the Bible, are artificial reservoirs, usually cut into bedrock, for collecting and conserving rain runoff from roofs and courtyards.
  2. In a flush toilet, the container in which the water used for flushing is held; a toilet tank.
    • 2003, Allan Windust, chapter 9, in Waterwise House & Garden: a Guide for Sustainable Living, →ISBN, page 36:
      It is possible to connect your tank to your toilet cistern and/or garden, so that even if the water is not drinkable it still can be used productively to make major water savings.
  3. A cisterna.
  4. The vessel surrounding the condenser in a steam engine.

Derived terms[edit]





cistern c

  1. cistern, tank


Declension of cistern 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative cistern cisternen cisterner cisternerna
Genitive cisterns cisternens cisterners cisternernas