Definition of cistern in US English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is a water-saving device you fit in your toilet cistern so that less water is used for flushing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The company advises householders to check that their main stopcock works and that all pipe work, cisterns and tanks are well insulated.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They smash toilet cisterns over each others' heads!’
    • ‘Old water cisterns and a Victorian toilet spill over with a veritable mass of plants and bulbs.’
    • ‘Install half-flush cisterns in toilets so that the amount of water flushed down the drain can be reduced.’
    • ‘Used water collected in this manner can be pumped back to supply outdoor taps and toilet cisterns everywhere already connected to the present system.’
    • ‘Almost every house has cisterns and water pipes and fountains.’
    • ‘Everything they needed to survive was inside: stores of food, cisterns of water, and strategically-placed air holes.’
    • ‘But the resident must hand pump the water from the cistern to the barrel in advance.’
    • ‘Behind was a court, which provided light, and a place for a water cistern supplying a communal tap.’
    • ‘When the bucket is full, I empty it into the toilet cistern.’
    • ‘In the corner of the room there is an iron cistern filled with water.’
    • ‘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.’
    tank, reservoir, container
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    1. 1.1 An underground reservoir for rainwater.
      • ‘Here the buildings are more substantial, and were supplied by a large water cistern.’
      • ‘The city's greatest find, though, lay hidden beneath the surface: four immense, underground water cisterns.’
      • ‘Many had wells or cisterns for collecting rainwater.’
      • ‘Rain flowing from the roof is collected in an underground cistern and reused.’
      • ‘If all the canals are opened, how long will it take to fill the cistern?’
      tank, reservoir, container
      View synonyms


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