Definition of cistern in US English:



  • 1A tank for storing water, especially one supplying taps or as part of a flushing toilet.

    • ‘We have recently installed push button taps to stop dripping and wastage, and now they are looking at introducing water hogs for the toilet cistern to save on water.’
    • ‘Used water collected in this manner can be pumped back to supply outdoor taps and toilet cisterns everywhere already connected to the present system.’
    • ‘They smash toilet cisterns over each others' heads!’
    • ‘Install half-flush cisterns in toilets so that the amount of water flushed down the drain can be reduced.’
    • ‘When the bucket is full, I empty it into the toilet cistern.’
    • ‘When you flush the toilet, the cistern refills by pumping the water through the tap on top of the toilet, so you can wash your hands as it refills.’
    • ‘Behind was a court, which provided light, and a place for a water cistern supplying a communal tap.’
    • ‘The Court of Appeal held that although the escape of water was a consequence of the maintenance of the cistern and water supply by the landlord, it was not a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment.’
    • ‘Everything they needed to survive was inside: stores of food, cisterns of water, and strategically-placed air holes.’
    • ‘It is a water-saving device you fit in your toilet cistern so that less water is used for flushing.’
    • ‘In the corner of the room there is an iron cistern filled with water.’
    • ‘Almost every house has cisterns and water pipes and fountains.’
    • ‘The Japanese have gone one step further and installed hand-basins in the top of their cisterns so that the toilets are flushed with pre-used water.’
    • ‘Size the cistern to provide enough water storage for reasonably expected dry periods.’
    • ‘Rehabilitation would include bringing to working order the ablution which is in a bad state as most of the toilet pans and cisterns are broken.’
    • ‘But the resident must hand pump the water from the cistern to the barrel in advance.’
    • ‘One compromise is to build a unit around the toilet to hide the cistern and plumbing from view but this ‘back to the wall’ unit will take up some potentially valuable space.’
    • ‘Old water cisterns and a Victorian toilet spill over with a veritable mass of plants and bulbs.’
    • ‘Amid comic dialogues and actions, and song and dance sequences, the players carried their message loud and clear: malaria-causing mosquitoes breed in clear water in the cisterns, tanks and wells of every household.’
    • ‘The company advises householders to check that their main stopcock works and that all pipe work, cisterns and tanks are well insulated.’
    tank, reservoir, container
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    1. 1.1 An underground reservoir for rainwater.
      • ‘The city's greatest find, though, lay hidden beneath the surface: four immense, underground water cisterns.’
      • ‘Here the buildings are more substantial, and were supplied by a large water cistern.’
      • ‘If all the canals are opened, how long will it take to fill the cistern?’
      • ‘Many had wells or cisterns for collecting rainwater.’
      • ‘Rain flowing from the roof is collected in an underground cistern and reused.’
      tank, reservoir, container
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French cisterne, from Latin cisterna, from cista ‘box’ (see cist).