Cemetery Glossary: Common Cemetery Jargon That You Should Know

Cemetery

Posted on August 18, 2015 by Tim Lee

Funeral360's Cemetery Glossary is guide to the cemetery jargon you should know when planning for your end-of-life care.

Burial

Synonymous with Interment, the placing of human remains in an underground enclosure.

Cemetery

Grounds dedicated to the burial and memorialization of human remains.

Columbarium

Sometimes referred to as “Urn Mausoleums”. A building or structure that houses cremated remains within small compartment spaces called niches. Bronze memorial plaques sit on the outside of the niche to identify the individual housed within.

Committal Service

The final portion of the funeral process where the casket is lowered to the ground and final words and prayers are spoken.

Commercial Cemetery

For-Profit and non-denominational cemeteries that are owned by corporations.

Community Mausoleum

An above ground structure that memorialized multiple individuals from various families.

Companion Plot

A ground burial for two caskets for the remains of two individuals. Two plots are sold together as a couple either side-by-side or stacked (one on top of the other).

Cremation Plot

An in-ground space that holds an urn with the cremated remains of an individual.

Cremation

The reduction of human remains to “ashes” through intense heat produced by a specialized furnace.

Cremation Garden

A designated area within a cemetery where cremated remains are buried or scattered.

Crypt

An entombment space for caskets typically found within Mausoleums.

Disinterment

The removal of human remains from the ground.

Double Depth Burial

Two caskets are buried within the same grave stacked upon one another.

Easement

The printed contract and agreement made between cemetery staff and the individual purchasing the rights of interment.

End-to-End Crypts

An entombment space within a Mausoleum that contains the casketed remains of two individuals in an end-to-end fashion.

Entombment

The process of placing a casket in a Mausoleum.

Exhumation

A synonym of disinter, the process of bringing human remains out of the Earth.

Family Plot

A family can purchase and designate an area for use by only their family members. They are typically delineated by a single family headstone but each individual may have his/her own headstone.

Grave

The designated space in the ground that receives the remains of a person.

Grave Depression

A furrow or sink-hole in the ground directly over a grave, caused by the degradation of the coffin.

Grave Liner or Vault

A receptacle that surrounds and holds the casket in the ground. Its main purpose is to support the weight of the ground above the casket and prevent grave depressions. Usually made of concrete or steel.

Green or Natural Burial Ground

A burial ground that carries out interment in a way that allows the body to decompose as a naturally as possible. Embalmed bodies are not permitted, nor are outer burial containers. Often the ground is designated as preserved space.

Green Burial

Burials carried out in a biodegradable casket or shroud and without embalming or vaults/grave liners to allow a natural decomposition of the interred body and cause the least amount of environmental damage.

Ground Burial

The disposition of human remains in the ground.

Headstone

A marker placed at the head of a grave indicating the identity of the interred.

Historic Cemetery

Cemeteries that harbor cultural significance and historic individuals from the past. Usually non-profit and closed to new burials.

Hybrid Burial Ground

A burial site where both green/natural and "traditional" burials occur.

Interment

The burial of human remains within a grave.

Inurnment

The process of placing an urn inside a niche.

Mausoleum

Above-ground structures which houses caskets within spaces called crypts.

Memorial

Any object or identifier used to commemorate the deceased including monuments and markers.

Municipal Cemetery

Burial grounds that are owned and maintained by a particular city’s governing body.

Niche

Small compartment spaces found within Columbariums that house ashes in urns.

Opening and Closing

Performed by Cemetery staff, opening and closing refers to the digging of the earth or opening of the mausoleum crypt and other preparations for interment of human remains as well as the filling in of the grave or closing/locking of the crypt once the casket or urn has have been successfully interred.

Outer Burial Container

vault or grave liner designed to encase the casket to prevent the ground from sinking as the casket deteriorates, making it easier for ground maintenance.

Perpetual Care

Money set aside to fund the continued care and maintenance of cemetery grounds.

Plot

A designated section of land within a cemetery for which a right of interment can be purchased. A single grave or many can make up a single plot.

Pre-Need

Arranging burial proceedings and/or purchasing cemetery property before someone’s passing.

Private Mausoleum

An above ground structure that is reserved for the entombment of a single family.

Religious Cemetery

A cemetery owned by a religious group or establishment.

Side-by-Side Crypts

An entombment space within a Mausoleum that is double the size of a single crypt and contains the casketed remains of two individuals in a side-by-side fashion.

Single Crypt

An entombment space within a Mausoleum that contains the casketed remains of a single individual.

Single Plot

A ground burial for a single casket containing the remains of one individual.

The Right of Interment

The right to bury human remains in a particular plot in a cemetery. Upon purchasing a “grave” the individual gains the right to bury their loved ones in the purchased location but does not own the land itself.

Urn

A container which contains the cremated remains.

Veterans Cemetery

Burial grounds dedicated to the interment of Veterans.

Westminster Family Crypts

Large entombment spaces within a Mausoleum that house families. Individual crypts are arranged in both a side-by-side and end-to-end fashion to accommodate each individual within the family. For a list of common Funeral Terms, see: Funeral Glossary.