URN (Lat. urna, either from root of were, to burn, being made of burnt clay, or connected with urceus, Gr. Cpxa, jar), a vessel or vase, particularly one with an oviform body and a foot. The Roman term urna was used primarily of a jar for carrying or drawing water, but was also specifically applied to the vessel in which the voting-tablets (tabellae) and lots (sortes) were cast, whence its figurative use for the urn of fate from which are drawn the varying lots of man's destiny. The ashes of the cremated dead were deposited in cinerary urns, a custom perpetuated by the marble or other urns placed upon funeral monuments. The Roman urna was also a liquid measure containing half an amphora, or about 3^ gallons. Modern usage has given the name to large silver or copper vessels containing tea or coffee with a tap for drawing off the liquids and heated either by a spirit lamp or, as in the older forms, by the insertion of a hot iron in a special receptacle placed in the body of the vessel.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)