From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Webster's Dictionary [1]

(1): (v. t.) To confine in, or as in, a cloister; to seclude from the world; to immure.

(2): (v. t.) An inclosed place.

(3): (v. t.) the series of such passages on the different sides of any court, esp. that of a monastery or a college.

(4): (v. t.) A covered passage or ambulatory on one side of a court;

(5): (v. t.) A monastic establishment; a place for retirement from the world for religious duties.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

(Lat. claustrum, an enclosure). This term is often applied to a monastery (q.v.). It was originally applied to the porch of the atrium or paradise (q.v.) of a church [see plan of ancient church under Church Edifices] in which interments were made before it became usual to bury in the church itself. The term cloister is now more usually used in English to indicate the arcade surrounding the court enclosed by the buildings of a monastic establishment. This enclosed space was generally a garden, ornamented with a fountain and shrubbery, but it often served also as a burial-place for leading members of the brotherhood. The arcade (or cloister), in the first, or first and second stories of the buildings facing the court, served, especially during bad weather, for processions, and as a promenade for the monks while saying prayers, meditating, or studying, and for health, recreation, and conversation. In the Benedictine monasteries there was read in the cloisters each day a portion of the regulations of the order, and the entire body of the regulations before the assembled brotherhood four times a year. Stone seats were usually placed before the windows, and cells or stalls for study set into the wall of the building, off from the cloister. Relics and other objects of worship were sometimes placed in the cloister .or the court. The cloisters had often great architectural! beauty, and some of them are very important in their bearing on the history of architecture. Large monasteries often had several cloisters. The term claustrum .was in them applied also to the covered passage-way leading from one part of a monastic establishment to another. Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen. Lex. 6, 228;