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A rainwater cistern.
A wine cistern.


Borrowed from Old French cisterne (Modern French citerne) from Latin cisterna, from cista (box), from Ancient Greek κίστη (kístē, box).



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 and 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.





cistern c

  1. cistern, tank


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