AskDefine | Define urn

Dictionary Definition



1 a large vase that usually has a pedestal or feet
2 a large pot for making coffee or tea

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. a vase with a footed base
  2. a metal vessel for serving tea or coffee
  3. a vessel for ashes or cremains of a deceased person


a vase with a footed base
a metal vessel for serving tea or coffee
a vessel for ashes or cremains of a deceased person


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Extensive Definition

An urn is a vase, ordinarily covered and without handles that usually has a narrowed neck above a footed pedestal. Knife urns on pedestals flanking a dining-room sideboard were an English innovation of the late 1760s that went out of fashion as sideboards with deep cupboard drawers were introduced at the end of the following decade.
In Classical term: A large decorative container of wood, metal, pottery, etc. In furniture, a large wooden vaselike container which was usually set on a pedestal on either side of a side table. This was the chracteristic of Adam designs and also of Hepplewhite's work. Urns were also used as decorative turnings at the cross points of stretchers in the 16th and 17th century furniture designs, The urn and the vase were very often set on the central pedestal in a "broken" or "swan's" neck pediment --- The Dictionary of Interior Design by Martin Pegler
Funerary urns (also called cinerary urns) were used by many civilizations. After death, a body would be cremated and the ashes were typically collected in an urn (for example, the Greek lekythos).
Romans placed the urns in a niche in a collective tomb called a "columbarium" (literally, "dovecote": the interior of a dovecote is usually covered in rows of niches to house doves).
The discovery of a Bronze Age urn burial in Norfolk prompted Sir Thomas Browne to deliver a careful description of the antiquties found, and then expand to give a survey of most of the burial and funerary customs, ancient and current, of which his era was aware, in Hydriotaphia or Urn Burial (1658).
The Ashes, the prize in the biennial Test cricket competition between England and Australia, are contained in a miniature urn. Urns are a common form of architectural detail and garden ornament. Well-known ornamental urns include the Waterloo Vase.
A tea urn is a heated metal container traditionally used to brew tea or boil water in large quantities in factories, canteens or churches, i.e. is it not usually found in domestic use. It has a small tap near the base for extracting either tea or hot water.
urn in German: Bestattungsurne
urn in Esperanto: Urno
urn in Persian: خاکستردان
urn in French: Urne funéraire
urn in Dutch: Urn
urn in Japanese: 骨壺
urn in Finnish: Uurna
urn in Contenese: 骨灰罌

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adobe, biscuit, bisque, bone pot, bowl, brick, cement, ceramic ware, ceramics, china, cinerary urn, crock, crockery, enamelware, firebrick, funeral urn, glass, jug, ossuary, porcelain, pot, pottery, refractory, tile, tiling, vase
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