A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Note: In producing this glossary we drew from a variety of sources, the more
extensive list can be found here.
aanspreeckers Those amongst the New Amsterdam Dutch in the American colonies who were hired to invite
people to funerals.
accessory chemicals Chemicals used along with regular embalming fluids such as preservatives, sealers,
known as grave wax. A cheese-like, grayish substance that may result from a corpse left in cool moist soil or
advance directives Documents such as "Do Not Resuscitate" and Living Wills
used for shipping caskets or bodies by air.
algor mortis Cooling of the body after death.
anatomical gifts Organ donations.
death of cells as a function of their intrinsic mechanisms.
arrangement conference Initial meeting between funeral director and customer.
arterial preservative Chemical used by embalmers to replace blood.
remains from cremation.
breakdown of the corpse by the body's digestive enzymes.
autopsy From the
Greek for to see for one's self, it is a medical procedure conducted following a death to determine it's cause
through examination of the various body parts. Also called a necropsy.
barrow Mound of
stones or dirt on top of grave.
"belly punchers" Derogatory term for those who use trocars to inject embalming fluids into cavities from
others in the industry.
bequeath To give
via a will, to pass on.
bereave To leave
alone, as by death. Also to take by force.
bi-unit pricing The now illegal in the US process of charging a separate price for casket and funeral
bier Stand for
corpse prior to burial and for transportation to the grave. Called a coffin in Scotland.
traditional color of mourning, though in some countries the color is white.
black death The
bubonic plague, responsible for widespread death in 14th century Europe.
bleaching agent Chemical used to lighten skin before cosmetics are applied to remove blemishes on
body Euphemism for
bog bodies Bodies
that are naturally mummified in peat bogs.
brain death A
condition that results when the brain ceases to be conscious and the body operates only as a result of mechanical
assistance. There are no brainwaves, movements, or responses to stimuli.
burial To place in
the ground, sea, tomb. To hide.
burial chest Antiquated term for a casket.
burial chamber A
repository for corpses.
burial mound A
mound resulting from dirt piled upon a corpse.
burial-transport permit Document allowing burial or cremation and transport of body.
burial vault These
are more expensive versions of grave liners, made of copper or steel instead of concrete. They are used to keep the
grave from subsiding. They also allow additional (vertical) storage space.
cadaver carrier Tool used to move corpses to morgue from hospitals.
cairn A mound of
stones serving as memorial or marker.
calcination Cremation from heat rather than flames.
call Industry term
one's own species. Also called necrophagia.
cannula Tool for
injecting embalming fluid in arteries.
canopic jars Containers for organs or ashes.
capillary flush Rosy cheeks resulting from embalming.
capital punishment The use of execution as the consequence of a crime.
case Industry term
rectangular coffin. Also a small case for jewels or valuables and a verb for enclosing.
underground cemetery, with chambers or tunnels having places for graves.
known as a casket standard. Structure on which corpse is carried.
cavity embalming The
use of cavity fluid to replace internal fluids in the abdomen.
cemetery A final
resting place for corpses, a graveyard.
Greek for empty tomb. A monument in honor of a dead person who is buried somewhere else.
used to cover corpse soaked in adhesive to hold it close.
certificate of disposition Document issued permitting burial or cremation.
charnel (house) A
place for storing bones or corpses.
chin rest Tool for
keep mouth of corpse closed.
for storing ashes, kept in cinerary jars.
coffin The box in
which bodies are laid to rest. Also the part of a horse hoof.
vault with niches for urns containing the ashes of those who have been cremated, or one of the niches themselves.
Also a raised structure with compartments for domesticated pigeons.
committal chamber Entrance to crematorium.
concurrent drainage Removing blood while at the same time adding embalming fluid.
coroner The public
official who mainly investigates any suspicious deaths.
corpse A dead
body. (from the same body root that led to words like midriff, corporal, corporate)
term for cryonically preserved body.
cranial embalming Embalming the inside of the skull via the nose.
cremation chamber Actual room where cremation to take place.
cremation society A memorial or burial group focusing on cremations.
a corpse into ashes.
place for the incineration of corpses. Also called pathological incinerators.
call cryogeny. The study of low temperatures and their production - now being applied to cryonics, the goal of
preserving humans through cryonic suspension or cryonic status until a time when they can be resuscitated. Such
reanimates are called cryonauts in some science fiction.
underground vault used as for burial, especially under a church. Also a small pit or glandular cavity in the
Day of the Dead A
holiday celebrating the dead in Mexico.
dead No longer
Counteracted by post-cryonic reanimation.
crosses, as those erected when there is a car accident.
cessation of life. What exactly that is subject to debate.
death angel A
poisonous white mushroom, also called death cup.
death benefit Money paid by life insurance.
death camas Grass
like plant poisonous to livestock.
death care industry Name used by the funeral industry for itself.
death certificate A document proclaiming the death of an individual and the conditions of the
death duty Tax on
inherited property, called also inheritance tax, estate tax or death tax.
death knell Something announcing death, as of the church bells of yore.
death mask Cast
made of face after death, used in ancient Rome by actors to play the dead and by Europeans to adorn the buried
corpse. Madame Tussaud of Wax Museum fame started out making death masks of those killed by the guillotine during
the French Revolution.
death notice Paid
announcement of death.
death penalty Another name for capital punishment
death point Level
of an environmental factor beyond which a species can no longer survive.
death qualify A
legal term for excusing those opposed to the death penalty from serving on a jury.
death rattle Noise
made by dying person as breath passes through mucus when the cough reflex is lost.
death row The
place where condemned criminals await their execution. Also called death house.
death toll The
cost in lives of a given event, from disease outbreak to military campaign.
death warrant Document authorizing execution. Also a destructive incident -
death's head The
human skull, a symbol of death.
the head of. Behead.
breakdown of the body after death.
Other synonyms suggest a journey or departure (passed away, passed on, no longer with us).
dental tie A way
of keeping the mouth on a corpse closed.
dewar Chamber for
storing cryogenically-preserved bodies.
direct burial Burial without viewing or embalming, also called immediate burial.
musical composition, poem, or other work.
remove the entrails from. Also remove meaning.
DNR An order to
not resuscitate in the event of failure of breathing or heart. CPR will not be initiated.
doedkammers Parlors built by the Pennsylvania Dutch in the American colonies to have funerals, with
doors large enough to accommodate the pallbearers.
draw and quarter Execute by tying the four limbs of a person to horses and having them run in opposite
directions, or mutilating a corpse after hanging.
electric chair First used in 1890 in New York, it took eight minutes to kill a person via electricity.
Benjamin Franklin experimented with the process earlier to see how much electricitiy it took to kill a
mourning someone or something that has been lost.
embalm To preserve
to prevent decay, to protect, to perfume.
who embalms corpses.
embalmer's gray The gray that poor positioning causes from blood moving into the head in a
embalming powder Dry substance used to preserve surface.
embalmment An old
method of preservation involving replacement of organs with chemicals and dehydration.
en bloc Latin for
in a group. A way to remove a whole group of organs during an autopsy so that their relative positions can be
en situ Latin for
in location. A way to look at organs still in the body during autopsy.
entomb To place in
or serve as a tomb or grave.
inscription on a tombstone or a short literary piece to remember a deceased person.
of theology dealing with the end of man or the world. Belief concerning final things.
eulogy A speech of
praise, usually given after someone has died.
the Greek for good death, it is the mercy killing of someone with terminal or incurable disease, a coup de
use of animals to dispose of human remains or to strip off flesh.
exhume To remove
from a grave (disinter). Or to expose. The fist burial is called a primary burial, and the second is called
secondary and in some cases may involve additional ritual.
death. Deadly. Lethal.
firing squad A
method of execution where a person is faced with an array of people with guns who all shoot at once, utilized
especially by militaries.
in water that have developed sufficient gas in them to rise to the surface.
flower death The
good death wished for by Aztecs in fighting.
forensic pathologist Pathologist who produces medical information for the legal profession. Something combining
both professions is called medicolegal.
formaldehyde gray Gray color resulting from the preservative formaldehyde's interaction with blood's
hemoglobin. Formaldehyde is present in embalming fluid.
preservative used by pathologists, containing formaldehyde and water.
killing of one's brother.
functional pricing Itemizing the bill for a funeral. Also called multi-unit pricing (as opposed to single-unit
or tri-unit). Required by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission
or procession held in conjunction with burial. Also an end, a eulogy, a sermon, a source of concern, or resembling
funeral chapel A
place for having funerals.
funeral director Person responsible for burial or cremation and often the embalming, as well as aiding in
the funeral ceremony.
funeral home A
place for dealing with dead bodies, viewing and funeral services.
funeral lighting Illumination of body in casket.
funeral procession A parade with a corpse following a funeral.
gas chamber A
method of execution where lethal gas is pumped into a chamber containing victims. When first used in response to
the inadequacy of the electric chair in the United States, deaths took anywhere from 2 to 11 minutes. A mass form
of this utilized Zyklon B during the Holocaust in purported showers.
genocide Systematic extermination of nation, race, or political or ethnic
ghost The spirit
of a dead person returning.
gibbet A cage for
corpses of criminals to be displayed until they rotted, as well as a gallows.
grave A place of
burial, especially the excavation itself. Also death itself, to stamp, to clean and coat with tar, an adjective
meaning serious, slow, somber.
grave liner See
grave marker Something placed in remembrance of the dead at the grave.
grave robber Those
who rob graves, either for the corpses to sell to science or for the goods a person may be buried with, as was the
case with the Egyptian pyramids.
gravestone A stone
placed on a grave to mark it, often bearing an inscription listing years of birth and death, name, and perhaps an
grief From the
same root as grave, aggravate, baritone. Mental anguish, annoyance, regret, trouble,
grief counselor A
newly created position to help people through their pain following a death.
grief therapist Industry term for a mortician.
Grim Reaper A
mythological figure representing death, a skeleton carrying a scythe with which he harvests
hanging A method
of execution where a hangman's noose is put around a persons neck and the person is raised from the ground, either
via suspension from a tree or a drop away floor on a gibbet or gallows. To string up.
hardening compound Stuff used to make tissues solid in a corpse by embalmers.
head freeze Putting strong embalming fluid at high pressure into the head and neck to preserve without
swelling. Also called instant tissue fixation.
head rest Device
used to keep head in place when embalming.
headstone A stone
set at the head of a grave. Also the central wedge part of an arch in architecture that holds it
hearse A vehicle
for the transportation of corpses from funeral to burial.
heart tap Putting
embalming fluid right into the heart via injection.
hermetically sealed Almost completely airtight - with caskets it prevents the release of
killing of a person by another person, or the person who does so.
used to counter dehydration in corpses.
hypodermic embalming Injecting embalming fluids into various body parts.
Hyperboreans Creatures of Greek myth who lived to be a thousand.
called livor mortis, this is the movement of blood to the lower parts of the body, where it is need
dying, not forgotten. Relating to immortality, indefinitely growing.
entomb in walls.
intermittent tissue drainage Only draining fluid occasionally during embalming so that pressure causes movement to
ashes into an urn.
kneeler A stool to
kneel on. One may be placed next to a casket.
last rites Christian sacrament or ritual performed for a dying person. Also called the rite of
lethal injection A
method of execution used in capital punishment first utilized in Texas in 1976. Chemicals injected via IV dull the
senses, relax muscles to stop breathing and then cause the heart to stop. It is the most popular method
lie in state To
put a prominent corpse on review for the public.
living will A will
that asks to not be kept alive by life support.
lynch To execute
without trial, especially hang.
martyr One who
dies for a cause.
elaborate tomb or the building holding these types of tombs. Also a gloomy building. From Persian
medical examiner A
forensic pathologist working for the government who looks into unexplained deaths.
memento mori Latin
for "remember thy death." A movement in the 1000's to remind people that they must be pious to allow for a good
memorial Something intended to remember a person or event. Also a statement of facts presented to rulers
or something related to memory.
memorial niche Place where urn stays.
memorial service Life a funeral, except not in the presence of the body.
memorial society Group providing inexpensive funerals.
memory picture The
way the body is presented following embalming.
monument From the
same root as mind, monster, money, mosaic (to think). A building or sculpture of memorial. Also a tombstone,
something of historical significance, outstanding achievement, written document, marker of
morbid Of or
relating to disease, unwholesome, gruesome.
Morbidity & Mortality Weekly
Report Flagship publication of the Centers for Disease Control
detailing information about recent deaths.
morgue A place to
store bodies until identification or funeral. Also a reference file in periodical office.
moribund Approaching death. Also on the verge of obsolescence.
mortal Subject to
death. Also human, related to or causing death, intense.
mortal. Also death, death rate.
cloth, especially in Scotland, to cover body or coffin.
for funeral director.
mortuary A place
to store corpses before burial, from mortuarie, a Middle English word for a gift from the deceased's estate to the
parish priest, from Latin mortuarium, a receptacle for dead things, from word for to die.
Mot From the
primal beliefs that led to Judaism, the god of death and sterility opposed to Baal, a god of
multiple cremations Cremating several bodies at once.
multiple-site injection Embalming performed at various sites concurrently.
mummy A body that
has been embalmed so as to be preserved. From mummy, a medicine from embalmed corpses, from Arabic word for
muscular suture Keeping a corpse's mouth closed by tying the lower lip to the inner
necrogenic Resulting from corpses.
necrogeneous Growing on dead tissue.
necrolatry Worshipping corpses.
necrophagous Feeding on corpses.
necrophilia Obsession with death. Erotic attraction to corpses.
necrophilous Fungi or
beetle (as the family Necrophagaus of Clavicron beetles) that feeds on the dead.
necrophobia Excessive fear of death or corpses.
cemetery, especially a large, extensive one in an ancient city or a city of the dead.
neomort Brain dead
bodies kept alive by machine.
neurosuspension Cryonic preservation of brains, usually still in the head. As opposed to whole-body
obituary Announcement of death in news.
organ and tissue donation An option for the parts of a corpse. An organ bank will coordinate the placement of organ
or tissue donor's body parts with suitable recipients. The United Network for Organ Sharing coordinates such
efforts in the United States.
container for the remains of the dead.
overlap A way to
keep a corpse's eyes closed by putting the top lid over the bottom one.
pall Covering on
casket during funeral or the coffin itself (i.e. pall bearers). Also something that obscures or
widespread epidemic. Also widespread, an epidemic disease. Prominent epidemics past and future include the plague,
influenza, and HIV/AIDS.
past lives Existences one has had prior to the present one, according to the doctrine of
of disease, the manifestation of disease, departure from normality.
killing of one's father.
perpetual care Guarantee of eternal cemetery upkeep.
pet cemetery A
place for the burial of dead pets.
plastination A way
to preserve dissected specimens after death.
postmortem stain Discoloration from blood color seeping into skin.
preparation room Embalming room.
pulverization Grinding of bone fragments after cremation, also called processing.
putrefaction Destruction of corpse by own bacteria.
pyre A pile of
things to burn a corpse on.
relics An object
kept for religious reasons, especially a body part of personal effect of a saint. Also something preserved from the
past, a corpse.
container for holding relics.
remains Body parts
left following death.
requiem A musical
composition for the All Saint's Day mass.
restorative art Industry term for embalmers and other cosmeticians who make body look
back to life.
rigor mortis The
stiffening of the body that sets in after a corpse has been dead for a while.
something to a deity to gain good favor, especially a slaughtered human or animal, the thing given, or the act of
doing so. Also something traded for something else.
sarcophagus A stone
coffin, often decorated
sance A meeting to receive spiritual messages, as
from a deceased spirit.
sepulcher A burial
vault, a place to store relics in an altar, to place in such a location.
or a sepulcher.
shell embalming Preserving over the outer shell.
shroud Cloth used
to wrap body when buried. Also to wrap, to shut off, to (find) shelter, a screen, and ropes used to support a mast
skull cap Part of
the skull removed to allow access to the brain.
slip coffins Coffins with floors that can come off, leaving the body behind, so that they can be used
soul Similar to
spirit What gives
life to something, essence.
commemorative stone inscribed or sculpture as a monument or in the face of a building. Also the central vascular
tissue in a plant.
killing of one's self.
suttee The act of
a woman placing herself on her husband's pyre, or the women who commits such an act. Made illegal by Britain in
study of social and psychological aspects of death and dying, as practiced by
thanatomimesis Pretending to be dead.
throat cutter Term
for arterial embalmers from those who use other methods because the neck had to be cut to expose
tomb From the
same toot as thigh, thousand, tumor (to swell). A grave, a burial vault, or a monument.
gravestone. Also a city in southwest Arizona.
toning compound A
dark color that is mixed with a brighter fundamental color gives a corpse a lifelike appearance.
trocar Long-needled instrument inserted in the body along imaginary trocar guides for removing
body fluids and replacing with embalming fluid. The hole is closed with a plastic screw called a trocar
mound or barrow.
funeral director. Also one who takes on a task.
urn Container for
ashes of a person who has been cremated.
Christian custom where the corpse is seen and family visited.
wake Watch over a
dead person before they are buried, sometimes festive. Also a watch, a festival in honor of a patron saint, an
annual vacation, to make aware of, to rouse, to watch, to stop sleeping. Also known as a
will A legal
document directing the dispersion of possessions after death. Also to choose, to order, the ability to choose,
winding sheet A
sheet to hold body before funeral, tied at both ends, sometimes exposing head.
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