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noun, plural: cisternae

(general) A reservoir or tank for storing water, especially a tank for holding rainwater for later use.

(cell biology) A space containing fluid, such as those occurring between the membranes of flattened sacs of the Golgi apparatus and the endoplasmic reticulum, also between the two membranes of the nuclear envelope.

(anatomy) A reservoir or a closed space filled with body fluid like chyle, lymph, or cerebrospinal fluid.


In neuroanatomy, cisternae refer to any of the openings in the subarachnoid space of the brain filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Some of the major subarachnoid cisternae are:

Word origin: Latin cisterna, from cista (“‘box’”), from Ancient Greek kistē, “‘box’”.

Related forms: cisternal (adjective).
Other derived terms:

Synonym: cistern.