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See also: Tarn and tårn


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Alternative forms[edit]


From Old Norse tjǫrn (a small mountain lake without tributaries). Cognate with Norwegian tjern (small forest or mountain lake) and Swedish tjärn (small forest lake)


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  • Homophone: turn (some US dialects)


A tarn in the Lake District

tarn (plural tarns)

  1. (Northern England) A small mountain lake, especially in Northern England.
    • 1839, Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, Project Gutenberg (1997), 1,
      It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression; and, acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down—but with a shudder even more thrilling than before—upon the remodelled and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows.
  2. (Montana) One of many small mountain lakes or ponds.



  • tarn” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2017.