[kat-uh-fawk, -fawlk, -falk]


a raised structure on which the body of a deceased person lies or is carried in state.
a hearse.


Nearby words

  1. catacombs,
  2. catacrotism,
  3. catadicrotism,
  4. catadioptric,
  5. catadromous,
  6. catagen,
  7. catagenesis,
  8. catagenetic,
  9. catalan,
  10. catalase

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for catafalque

British Dictionary definitions for catafalque



a temporary raised platform on which a body lies in state before or during a funeral

Word Origin for catafalque

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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper