Words to Know

Adipocere – also grave wax; formed when a body is in a highly saturated, low-oxygen environment. Basically, the body turns into soap, more or less.

Aquamation – also resomation or alkaline hydrolysis; a technique which uses lye to dissolve a body rather than an oven to burn it

Casket – a rectangular box

Cemetery – a resting place for the dead not attached to a church (cf. graveyard)

Cenotaph - a monument erected to someone whose remains are elsewhere; literally, “empty tomb”

Coffin – a box that is tapered at both ends

Columbarium – a place to put urns containing cremains


Consort – wife, if her husband survived her (cf. relict)


Cortege – a procession, esp. after a funeral

Cremains – the “ashes” that remain after cremation

Cremation – to reduce a body to ashes by burning it

Exhume – to retrieve a body from where it has been buried (cf. inhume)

Geb. – abbreviation of “geboren,” used on German-language stones, meaning born

Gest. – abbreviation of “gestorben,” used on German-language stones, meaning died

Graveyard – a resting place for the dead, often attached to a particular church (cf. cemetery)

Green burial – burials in which the aim is to leave as little environmental impact as possible.  For example, bodies may be placed in wicker containers with no metal fittings. Markers may or may not be allowed.

Inhume – to bury (cf. interment)

Interment – to bury (cf. inhume)

Plastination – the technique of replacing bodily fluids with plastic so that organs, or whole bodies, can be used for teaching or can be displayed.  See Body Worlds.

Relict – wife, if her husband died previously and she did not remarry (cf. consort)

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Scatter garden – a place to scatter cremains

Taphophile – someone who likes cemeteries

Transi tomb – also cadaver tomb, memento mori tomb; a grave marker which depicts a rotting body


Tumulus – a grave set into a hill, or with a mound built up over it; barrow