- a stone coffin, especially one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, etc., often displayed as a monument.
- Greek Antiquity. a kind of stone thought to consume the flesh of corpses, used for coffins.
Origin of sarcophagus
Examples from the Web for 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
Coffer cut with ledges and catch-holes for a lid, like other sarcophagi.Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1
James Y. Simpson
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
- a stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
Word Origin and History for sarcophagi
plural of sarcophagus (q.v.).
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."