Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[sahr-kof-uh-guh s] /sɑrˈkɒf ə gəs/
noun, plural sarcophagi
[sahr-kof-uh-jahy] /sɑrˈkɒf əˌdʒaɪ/ (Show IPA),
a stone coffin, especially one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, etc., often displayed as a monument.
Greek Antiquity. a kind of stone thought to consume the flesh of corpses, used for coffins.
Origin of sarcophagus
1595-1605; < Latin < Greek sarkophágos, noun use of the adj.; see sarcophagous Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for sarcophagi
Historical Examples
  • On these sarcophagi also the ornamentation is almost always rich, and carried out with neatness even to the smallest detail.

  • Coffer cut with ledges and catch-holes for a lid, like other sarcophagi.

  • Also, a highly preservative varnish in use by the ancients for ships' bottoms, sarcophagi, &c.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • In this the graves and sarcophagi are sunk in the floor as well as in the walls.

    The Catacombs of Rome William Henry Withrow
  • The dead breaking open the lids of their sarcophagi and rising to judgment are justly famous for spirited action.

    Renaissance in Italy Vol. 3 John Addington Symonds
  • The group of sarcophagi in this chamber has apparently never been touched.

    The Story of Perugia Margaret Symonds
  • The images of the Four Seasons are not uncommon on Christian sarcophagi.

    Pagan and Christian Rome Rodolfo Lanciani
  • The museum contains a fine collection of statues, busts, sarcophagi, &c.

    Rambles in Rome S. Russell Forbes
  • In 1787, one was opened at Crcy, and in it were found two sarcophagi of burnt clay, in each of which was an entire skeleton.

  • On the left-hand side, two sarcophagi remain, with the names of Sex.

    Old Rome Robert Burn
British Dictionary definitions for sarcophagi


noun (pl) -gi (-ˌɡaɪ), -guses
a stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
Word Origin
C17: via Latin from Greek sarkophagos flesh-devouring; from the type of stone used, which was believed to destroy the flesh of corpses
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for sarcophagi

plural of sarcophagus (q.v.).



c.1600, "type of stone used for coffins," from Latin sarcophagus, from Greek sarkophagos "limestone used for coffins," literally "flesh-eating," in reference to the supposed action of this type of limestone (quarried near Assos in Troas, hence the Latin lapis Assius) in quickly decomposing the body, from sarx (genitive sarkos) "flesh" (see sarcasm) + phagein "to eat" (see -phagous). Related: Sarcophagal.

The "stone" sense was the earliest in English; meaning "stone coffin, often with inscriptions or decorative carvings" is recorded from 1705. The Latin word, shortened in Vulgar Latin to *sarcus, is the source of French cercueil, German Sarg "coffin," Dutch zerk "tombstone."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for sarcophagus

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for sarcophagi

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for sarcophagi