Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rounded or conical heap of stones erected by early inhabitants of the British Isles, apparently as a sepulchral monument.
  • n. A pile of stones heaped up as a landmark, to guide travelers on land or at sea, or to arrest attention, as in surveying, or in leaving traces of an exploring party, etc.
  • n. A cairn terrier.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rounded or conical heap of stones erected by early inhabitants of the British Isles, apparently as a sepulchral monument.
  • n. A pile of stones heaped up as a landmark, or to arrest attention, as in surveying, or in leaving traces of an exploring party, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A heap of stones; especially, one of a class of large heaps of stones common in Great Britain, particularly in Scotland and Wales, and generally of a conical form.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a mound of stones piled up as a memorial or to mark a boundary or path
  • n. small rough-haired breed of terrier from Scotland

Etymologies

Middle English carne, from Scottish Gaelic carn, from Old Irish.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Scots cairn, from Scottish Gaelic carn ("heap of stones"); compare Old Irish carn, Welsh carn, probably from a Proto-Celtic word meaning ‘horn’. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Wikipedia: cairn


    In the mythology of ancient Greece, cairns were associated with Hermes, the god of overland travel. According to one legend, Hermes was put on trial by Hera for slaying her favorite servant, the monster Argus. All of the other gods acted as a jury, and as a way of declaring their verdict they were given pebbles, and told to throw them at whichever person they deemed to be in the right, Hermes or Hera. Hermes argued so skillfully that he ended up buried under a heap of pebbles, and this was the first cairn.

    January 18, 2009

  • Aren't cairns also connected to Hermes in Greek mythology?

    April 9, 2008