a sepulchral vault or other structure with recesses in the walls to receive the ashes of the dead.
Columbarium “a sepulchral vault with recesses in the walls for cremation urns” is a direct borrowing from Latin, in which the term means “a nesting box for pigeons” or, more simply, “a place for doves,” from columba “pigeon, dove” and the suffix -ārium, which denotes a location where something is stored or regularly found. A columbarium was originally an oversized birdhouse containing small alcoves in which pigeons could build their nests. From there, while the name and general shape was kept, a columbarium became a place in which the alcoves could house cremation urns. While columba itself is of uncertain origin, it is the source of given names such as Callum and Malcolm (by way of Celtic languages); surnames such as Coleman, Colombo, and Colón; and geographic names such as Colombia and Columbia—both the Canadian province and the American district. Columbarium was first recorded in English in the 1840s.
The remains of the dead are sent to be cremated and placed in multistory depositories, called columbaria, that look very much like the government apartment blocks where many of them had lived before their interludes underground .… In Hong Kong, where the waiting time for a niche in a columbarium can be five years or more, the government has been trying, with limited success, to persuade people to scatter ashes at sea.
Out in Odd Fellows’ Cemetery stands the largest, the best, the most original, and most beautiful columbarium in the whole world …. Mr. Cahill had seen the Old World columbaria, and they had not struck him as very agreeable places to be in …. The dead may be dead, but why should the living constantly be painfully reminded of it? Mr. Cahill proposed a cheerful columbarium! It was a startling move, but it struck the New World, Western fancy.
causing a shudder or feeling of horror; horrible; gruesome.
Grisly “causing a shudder or feeling of horror” is of Germanic origin, from Old English grislīc “horrible.” A widespread assumption is that grisly is related to grizzly or to French gris “gray,” but for the second time this week, we have a common misconception on our hands. Grizzly and gris are in fact related to one another but not to grisly; grizzly is a derivative of gris, which is a borrowing from Frankish, if not another Germanic source, that was also borrowed into Italian as grigio, as in the white wine Pinot Grigio, which is made from grapes with grayish-blue skin. Gris is not, in fact, likely related to English gray, which derives from a similar-sounding yet distinct root with the same meaning. Grisly was first recorded in English before the 12th century.
Any insect unlucky enough to land on the mouth-like leaves of an Australian pitcher plant will meet a grisly end. The plant’s prey is drawn into a vessel-like ‘pitcher’ organ where a specialized cocktail of enzymes digests the victim.
If I’m murdered as part of a grisly conspiracy that demands a ten-part true-crime podcast, don’t let them advertise underwear on it. If a secret will appears after my demise, ignore it. I’m leaving everything to the dog.
proper to or suggestive of a tomb; funereal or dismal.
Sepulchral “proper to or suggestive of a tomb,” the adjectival counterpart of the noun sepulcher, spelled sepulchre in British English, derives from Latin sepulcrālis “relating to a tomb,” from sepulcrum “tomb.” There is no clear reason for the addition of the h to these two Latin terms as they passed via Old French into English, though it is possible that influence from the similar-sounding adjective pulcher “beautiful” may have been the culprit. Alternatively, because spelling rules became lax in Medieval Latin (which was roughly contemporaneous with Old French) and the letter h had become silent, h started cropping up in words where it had no reason to appear, and the change of Middle English sepulcre to sepulchre in the 1200s could have followed this trend. A similar phenomenon occurred with cāritās “dearness, charity,” which was often misspelled in Medieval Latin as charitas by conflation with Ancient Greek kháris “grace, charm.” Sepulchral first appeared in English in the early 1600s.
Hermione came down to dinner strange and sepulchral, her eyes heavy and full of sepulchral darkness, strength. She had put on a dress of stiff old greenish brocade, that fitted tight and made her look tall and rather terrible, ghastly. In the gay light of the drawing-room she was uncanny and oppressive. But seated in the half-light of the dining-room, sitting stiffly before the shaded candles on the table, she seemed a power, a presence.
Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox