• synonyms


[kat-uh-fawk, -fawlk, -falk]
See more synonyms for catafalque on Thesaurus.com
  1. a raised structure on which the body of a deceased person lies or is carried in state.
  2. a hearse.
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Origin of catafalque

1635–45; < French < Italian catafalco < Late Latin *catafalicum scaffold, equivalent to cata- cata- + fal(a) wooden siege tower + -icum, neuter of -icus -ic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

box, casket, bier

Examples from the Web for catafalque

Historical Examples

  • Prepare the catafalque in St. Martin's church, and place it before the altar!

    A Word Only A Word, Complete

    Georg Ebers

  • The catafalque bore a notice to the effect that he had abjured heresy.

  • Then he rose, as pale as death, and walked up the steps of the catafalque.

  • Boris could not imagine how any human being could sleep in such a catafalque.

    The Precipice

    Ivan Goncharov

  • The whole appearance of the catafalque was tasteful and elegant.

British Dictionary definitions for catafalque


  1. a temporary raised platform on which a body lies in state before or during a funeral
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Word Origin

C17: from French, from Italian catafalco, of uncertain origin; compare scaffold
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

Word Origin and History for catafalque


1640s, from French catafalque (17c.), from Italian catafalco "scaffold," from Vulgar Latin *catafalicum, from Greek kata- "down" (see cata-), used in Medieval Latin with a sense of "beside, alongside" + fala "scaffolding, wooden siege tower," a word said to be of Etruscan origin. The Medieval Latin word also yielded Old French chaffaut, chafaud (Modern French échafaud) "scaffold."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper