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[sahr-kof-uh-guh s]
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noun, plural sar·coph·a·gi [sahr-kof-uh-jahy] /sɑrˈkɒf əˌdʒaɪ/, sar·coph·a·gus·es.
  1. a stone coffin, especially one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, etc., often displayed as a monument.
  2. Greek Antiquity. a kind of stone thought to consume the flesh of corpses, used for coffins.
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Origin of sarcophagus

1595–1605; < Latin < Greek sarkophágos, noun use of the adj.; see sarcophagous
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sarcophagi

crate, sarcophagus, case, bin, chest, coffer, carton, pinto, casket, pall, catafalque

Examples from the Web for sarcophagi

Historical Examples of sarcophagi

  • The majority are engaged in the construction of temples and sarcophagi.

    Chit-Chat; Nirvana; The Searchlight

    Mathew Joseph Holt

  • The images of the Four Seasons are not uncommon on Christian sarcophagi.

    Pagan and Christian Rome

    Rodolfo Lanciani

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

  • 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 story of Iphigenia is a favourite theme for the sarcophagi of women.

    The Story of Perugia

    Margaret Symonds

British Dictionary definitions for sarcophagi


noun plural -gi (-ˌɡaɪ) or -guses
  1. a stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
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Word Origin for sarcophagus

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

Word Origin and History for sarcophagi


plural of sarcophagus (q.v.).

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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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper