One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A decorated wooden framework supporting the coffin of a distinguished person during a funeral or while lying in state.
- ‘Cloaked in Braemar purple felt, surrounded by five large candles and guarded at each corner by an officer of the Household Cavalry in full dress uniform, the catafalque was yesterday afternoon an arresting sight.’
- ‘They were driven back by police and soldiers, and the coffin was taken in and placed on a towering catafalque.’
- ‘By 10 am even the candles surrounding the catafalque were no longer lit but the silence was broken every so often by the whir and click of cameras taking the last photographs of the lying-in-state.’
- ‘Over the weekend his body lay in state in a silver mounted coffin on a catafalque in front of the Speaker's platform.’
- ‘The coffin will be placed on a catafalque of rough pine boards, nailed together and covered with black cloth, which was first used for Abraham Lincoln's funeral.’
- ‘It was 11.15 am when the bearer party, their faces strained in concentration, came into the crisp, morning sunlight having lifted the coffin from the catafalque in the great Westminster Hall where it had rested since Friday.’
- ‘Eight pall bearers from the Irish Guards lifted it from the gun-carriage and carried it slowly to the catafalque.’
- ‘Propped up at one end by a broken-off marble Ionian capital is a long, slanting wooden board, suggesting a collapsed catafalque.’
- ‘By last night, almost 50,000 people were expected to have filed past the catafalque.’
- ‘The cadet contingent also provided a guard at the Cenotaph for Tuesday's remembrance service and the catafalque party demonstrated a memorable and solemn performance.’
- ‘Dignitaries placed wreaths before a catafalque party, taking position with veterans on a parade which formed a tangible reminder of the thousands of Anzacs and police officers who have worn the blue beret in the past half century.’
- ‘The Queen had already arrived and came to join the procession as it was borne inside to the waiting catafalque and to the start of the lying-in-state.’
- ‘Why did so many people, including children, queue patiently for hours, to witness Beefeaters and Gentlemen-at-Arms, with reversed halberds, guarding a catafalque in Westminster Hall?’
- ‘The bearer party lifts the coffin from the catafalque in Westminster Hall and carries it to the gun carriage outside the North Door.’
- ‘There is something in the air that silences everybody, even small children, as they pass either side of the catafalque, occasionally glancing upwards at the four statues of Saxon kings and the 12 th century roof.’
- ‘But even the media were taken by surprise. They did not arrange for a million people to turn out for the funeral; and even the most enthusiastic monarchists could not predict the endless queues that waited to pass by the catafalque.’
- ‘The catafalque party stood vigil without spectators to honour those who fell during the battle for El Alamein and the airmen and sailors who lie where they fell with no marker.’
Mid 17th century: from French, from Italian catafalco, of unknown origin. Compare with scaffold.
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