Definition of cesspool in English:



  • 1An underground container for the temporary storage of liquid waste and sewage.

    • ‘As municipal water and sewer systems replaced backyard wells, cesspools, and privies, outbreaks of cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, malaria, and typhus diminished.’
    • ‘According to Mississippi law, these facilities have to set the cesspools and barns back at least 300 feet from the property line.’
    • ‘For example, this could be where the judgement was based on replacing septic tanks with cesspools, or with private sewage treatment plants at the expense of the applicant.’
    • ‘Its waste, up to ten pounds per day, drops through the slats where it collects before being periodically pumped into open-air cesspools.’
    • ‘Breeding occurs in rain barrels, tin cans, tires, stormsewer catch basins, street gutters, polluted ground pools, cesspools, open septic tanks, etc.’
    • ‘Place tight covers over cisterns, cesspools, septic tanks, fire barrels, rain barrels and tubs where water is stored.’
    • ‘This refuse percolated down into the aquifers, which were also threatened by the increasing number of cesspools in the city.’
    • ‘Out back, however, out of sight except from a plane, are the pits, lagoons, and cesspools of millions of gallons of untreated animal waste.’
    • ‘The accident also contaminated the water cistern of the cesspool's owner, who had to purchase water from the Aqueduct Company thereafter.’
    • ‘As the town had no wells it would not be necessary to enforce the construction of watertight cesspools.’
    • ‘Physicians attributed the primary cause of disease to miasmas emanating from sewage, cesspools, or rotting vegetable matter.’
    • ‘The house was also in need of an efficient hot-water and heating system, new external drains and cesspools, improved internal sanitation and complete re-wiring for bells to link all the floors.’
    • ‘The report compared the environmental effects of the cesspool option and the public sewerage option both during construction and afterwards, including the effects of emptying the cesspools once a month.’
    • ‘The Appellant owns and uses two tractors for the purpose of his business of emptying cesspools and discharging the waste on agricultural land.’
    1. 1.1A disgusting or corrupt place.
      ‘they should clean out their own political cesspool’
      • ‘Unsparing in his criticism, he held politicians squarely responsible for converting research institutions into a cesspool of dirty politics and trade unionism.’
      • ‘When we permit someone to abuse his power to take advantage of us, we demean ourselves and we contribute to the cesspool of corruption that is holding Indonesia back from her rightful place among the evolved nations of the world.’
      • ‘But whether the Cabinet falls or not, Czechs know that very little will change, for the cesspool that is Czech political culture runs very deep indeed.’
      • ‘Many of our organizations are cesspools of addictive and abusive behavior even as executives espouse otherwise. People harm the spirits of others daily and humanity is lost.’
      • ‘Sheridan depicts drug-filled cesspools not to criticize or protest, but to claim that they form merely the bottom rung of an ever-ascending ladder of success.’
      • ‘I don't know exactly why, but I suppose it's mainly because Sacramento politics is such a cesspool that it makes Congress look like a bunch of do-gooding Model UN participants.’
      • ‘I knew that such a place would have been a cesspool of violence, corruption and racism, and I wanted to write a Mississippi prison book that sort of reversed the polarities.’
      • ‘The entire kitchen sink has been thrown in, and for this and other reasons departments of English have generally become cesspools of diffusion, disaffection, and resentment.’
      • ‘Hersh's work won him a Pulitzer, and he's continued digging into military and political cesspools, including the CIA's bombing of Cambodia and its actions against Chile's Salvador Allende.’
      • ‘Once dreaded as cesspools of infection, hospitals began to be seen as temples of healing and citadels of science, affording them a new moral identity.’
      • ‘The regimes of Eastern Europe were cesspools of political reaction.’
      • ‘Allow such a mix to dominate a society, and a vast, corrupt cesspool in Washington and on Wall Street is guaranteed.’
      • ‘He's logged 2 1/2 years at Enron, mopping up one of the biggest financial cesspools in U.S. history.’
      • ‘The journalistic wing of the American intelligentsia in particular is largely a cesspool of venality and corruption.’
      • ‘Reserves are cesspools of corruption and all band councils are poorly managed and unaccountable.’
      • ‘Once personal and environmental filth came to indicate an absence of morality, Boston's tenement districts seemed like cesspools of sin.’
      • ‘At home, it's a cesspool of corruption, where charges of theft or employee harassment are hardly unheard of.’
      • ‘Our whole system is nothing but a corrupt cesspool of legalized bribery!’
      • ‘It was dictatorships that plunged the Philippines and Indonesia into the cesspool of corruption.’


Late 17th century (denoting a trap under a drain to catch solids): probably an alteration, influenced by pool, of archaic suspiral vent, water pipe, settling tank from Old French souspirail air hole based on Latin sub- from below + spirare breathe.