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From Middle English urne, from Old French urne, from Latin urna (vessel).



urn (plural urns)

  1. A vase with a footed base.
    • Bishop Wilkins
      A rustic, digging in the ground by Padua, found an urn, or earthen pot, in which there was another urn.
    • Dryden
      His scattered limbs with my dead body burn, / And once more join us in the pious urn.
    • 1967, Sleigh, Barbara, Jessamy, 1993 edition, Sevenoaks, Kent: Bloomsbury, →ISBN, page 47:
      ‘You would take her side Marcus! You don’t know what it’s like at school. Mary Fibbs and all her friends start making coughing noises whenever I come near them, and then they all giggle and Mary says Grandfather mixes his cough medicine in the urns on top of the gate posts after dark with his umbrella, and now Jessamy! I only wish Harry was here. You’re all against me. I hate you all. I hate you!’
  2. A metal vessel for serving tea or coffee.
  3. A vessel for the ashes or cremains of a deceased person.
  4. (figuratively) Any place of burial; the grave.
    • Shakespeare
      Or lay these bones in an unworthy urn, / Tombless, with no remembrance over them.
  5. (historical, Roman antiquity) A measure of capacity for liquids, containing about three gallons and a half, wine measure. It was half the amphora, and four times the congius.
  6. (botany) A hollow body shaped like an urn, in which the spores of mosses are contained; a spore case; a theca.



urn (third-person singular simple present urns, present participle urning, simple past and past participle urned)

  1. (transitive) To place in an urn.

Further readingEdit



Alternative formsEdit


Latin urna.


  • IPA(key): /ʏrn/
  • (file)


urn f (plural urnen, diminutive urntje n)

  1. funerary urn
    Synonym: asvaas
  2. any other footed vase

Derived termsEdit