• synonyms


[kol-uh m-bair-ee-uh m]
noun, plural col·um·bar·i·a [kol-uh m-bair-ee-uh] /ˌkɒl əmˈbɛər i ə/.
  1. a sepulchral vault or other structure with recesses in the walls to receive the ashes of the dead.
  2. any one of these recesses.
  3. columbary.
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Origin of columbarium

1840–50; < Latin: literally, a nesting box for pigeons, equivalent to columb(a) pigeon, dove + -ārium -ary
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for columbarium

Historical Examples of columbarium

  • On the road to Assiut is a fine Roman columbarium or dove-cote.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 15, Slice 7


  • In the rectory orchard close by is the "columbarium," or all that is left of it.

    Seaward Sussex

    Edric Holmes

  • There is the Roman columbarium, within the Etruscan site; there are the Etruscan tombs bored deep in all the surrounding hills.

    Studies of Travel: Italy

    Edward A. Freeman

  • In these gardens an interesting discovery has just been made; an extensive burial place, or columbarium, in singular preservation.

    The Diary of an Ennuye

    Anna Brownell Jameson

  • Columbarium means not only a dovecote, but also a sepulchre, with niches for urns.

British Dictionary definitions for columbarium


noun plural -ia (-ɪə)
  1. another name for a dovecote
  2. a vault having niches for funeral urns
  3. a hole in a wall into which a beam is inserted
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Word Origin for columbarium

C18: from Latin, from columba dove
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 columbarium


"subterranean sepulchre in ancient Roman places with niches for urns holding remains," neuter of Latin columbarius, "dove-cote" (so called from resemblance), literally "pertaining to doves;" from columba "dove." Literal sense of "dove-cote" is attested in English from 1881.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper