[sen-uh-taf, -tahf]


a sepulchral monument erected in memory of a deceased person whose body is buried elsewhere.

Origin of cenotaph

1595–1605; < Latin cenotaphium < Greek kenotáphion, equivalent to kenó(s) empty + -taphion (táph(os) tomb + -ion diminutive suffix)
Related formscen·o·taph·ic [sen-uh-taf-ik] /ˌsɛn əˈtæf ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cenotaph

Contemporary Examples of cenotaph

  • Others think it may be a cenotaph, built to house Alexander himself but then left empty after Ptolemy made off with his body.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Is This Alexander the Great’s Tomb?

    James Romm

    September 13, 2014

  • Walking in the rain toward the cenotaph, I observed that about every other person wore a red paper poppy in the lapel.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Lessons from Another War

    Christopher Buckley

    November 12, 2009

Historical Examples of cenotaph

British Dictionary definitions for cenotaph



a monument honouring a dead person or persons buried elsewhere
Derived Formscenotaphic, adjective

Word Origin for cenotaph

C17: from Latin cenotaphium, from Greek kenotaphion, from kenos empty + taphos tomb



the Cenotaph the monument in Whitehall, London, honouring the dead of both World Wars: designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens: erected in 1920
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 cenotaph

c.1600, from French cénotaphe (16c.), from Latin cenotaphium, from Greek kenotaphion, from kenos "empty" (see keno-) + taphos "tomb, burial, funeral," from PIE root *dhembh- "to bury."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper