AskDefine | Define tomb

Dictionary Definition

tomb n : a place for the burial of a corpse (especially beneath the ground and marked by a tombstone); "he put flowers on his mother's grave" [syn: grave]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Ancient Greek τύμβος (tumbos) "a sepulchral mound, cairn, barrow", generally "tomb, grave"



tomb (plural: tombs)
  1. A small building (or "vault") for the remains of the dead, with walls, a roof, and (if it is to be used for more than one corpse) a door. It may be partly or wholly in the ground (except for its entrance) in a cemetery, or it may be inside a church proper or in its crypt. Single tombs may be permanently sealed; those for families (or other groups) have doors for access whenever needed.


Extensive Definition

For the New York prison see The Tombs. A Tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. The term generally refers to any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. The word is used in a broad sense to encompass a number of such types of places of interment or, occasionally, burial, including:
  • Burial vaults – stone or brick-lined underground spaces for interment (rather than burial), originally vaulted, often privately owned for specific family groups; usually beneath a religious building such as a church or in a churchyard or cemetery
  • Monuments – within a church (or tomb-style chests in a churchyard) may be places of interment, but this is unusual; they more commonly stand over the grave or burial vault rather than containing the actual body and are therefore not tombs
  • Crypts – often, though not always, for interment; similar to burial vaults but usually for more general public interment
  • Martyrium - final resting place for the remains of a martyr or saint, such as San Pietro in Montorio
  • Mausolea (including ancient pyramids in some countries) – external free-standing structures, above ground, acting as both monument and place of interment, usually for individuals or family groups
  • Megalithic tombs (including Chamber tombs) – prehistoric places of interment, often for large communities, constructed of large stones and originally covered with an earthen mound
  • Sarcophagi – stone containers for bodies or coffins, often decorated and perhaps part of a monument; these may stand within religious buildings or greater tombs or mausolea
  • Sepulchres – cavernous, rock-cut or stone-built (often underground) spaces for interment, such as the tombs of ancient Egypt; however, it is generally used to refer to similar Jewish or Christian structures.
  • Architectural shrines – in Christianity, an architectural shrine above a saint's first place of burial, as opposed to a similar shrine on which stands a reliquary or feretory into which the saint's remains have been transferred
  • Other forms of archaeological 'tombs' such as ship burials
As indicated, tombs are generally located in or under religious buildings, such as churches, or in cemeteries or churchyards. However, they may also be found in catacombs, on private land or, in the case of early or pre-historic tombs, in what is today open landscape.
The tomb of Emperor Nintoku (the 16th emperor of Japan) is the largest in the world by area. However, the Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt is the largest by volume.
tomb in Czech: Hrobka
tomb in German: Grabmal
tomb in Modern Greek (1453-): Τάφος
tomb in Esperanto: tombo
tomb in Spanish: Tumba
tomb in French: Tombe
tomb in Japanese: 墓
tomb in Korean: 무덤
tomb in Dutch: Graftombe
tomb in Polish: Grobowiec
tomb in Portuguese: Tumba
tomb in Slovak: Hrobka
tomb in Swedish: Gravvård
tomb in Thai: ที่เก็บศพ
tomb in Classical Chinese: 墓
tomb in Chinese: 墓穴
tomb in Simple English: tomb

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

arch, barrow, beehive tomb, bone house, boundary stone, box, box grave, brass, burial, burial chamber, burial mound, bust, cairn, catacomb, catacombs, cenotaph, charnel house, cist, cist grave, coffin, column, cromlech, cross, crypt, cup, cyclolith, deep six, dokhma, dolmen, ensepulcher, entomb, footstone, grave, gravestone, headstone, hoarstone, house of death, inhume, inscription, inter, last home, lay away, long home, low green tent, low house, marker, mastaba, mausoleum, megalith, memento, memorial, memorial arch, memorial column, memorial statue, memorial stone, menhir, monolith, monstrance, monument, mound, mummy chamber, narrow house, necrology, obelisk, obituary, ossuarium, ossuary, passage grave, pillar, pit, plant, plaque, prize, put away, pyramid, reliquary, remembrance, resting place, ribbon, rostral column, sepulcher, sepulture, shaft, shaft grave, shrine, stela, stone, stupa, tablet, testimonial, tombstone, tope, tower of silence, trophy, trough, tumulus, vault
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