Cistern vs sister

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Cistern and sister are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, but have very different meanings. They are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of cistern and sister, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A cistern is a tank or underground reservoir that is used to store water.  A cistern serves as a reliable water supply, and is usually used to catch rain water for later use. Cisterns are built with waterproof linings. In Neolithic times, cisterns were built and lined with lime plaster. The Basilica Cistern was constructed during the sixth century by Emporer Justinian beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey, just southwest of the Hagia Sophia. In fact, several hundred cisterns are located under Istanbul, built to provide drinking water  for the city. The word cistern is derived from the Greek word kistê, meaning basket.

A sister is a female sibling. The word sister is also used to refer to women who are associated through a bond such as a trade union or social cause. In Britain, a senior female nurse may be referred to as sister. Women religious in the Roman Catholic Church are also called sisters. The word sister is derived from the Old English words  sweostor and swuster.


Last week, construction crews working at Court and State streets found a cistern believed to belong to the former Oneida Brewery. (The Utica Observer-Dispatch)

Koca Mahmut Paşa Mosque compound previously included a madrassa (Islamic school), water cistern and a fountain. (The Daily Sabah)

The sister of London Bridge terror victim James McMullan has spoken out about the ‘preventable’ death of her brother and blasted the Government for having ‘blood on its hands.’ (The Daily Mail)

On the weekend, over 300 former students and teachers from the Academy of Our Lady of Sion gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sisters’ arrival in Saskatoon. (The Saskatoon Star Phoenix)