One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Waxed cloth for wrapping a corpse.
winding sheet, grave clothes, burial clothes, cerements, chrisomView synonyms
- ‘The coffin was forced, the cerements torn, and the melancholy relics, clad in sackcloth, after being rattled for hours on moonless byways, were at length exposed to uttermost indignities before a class of gaping boys.’
- ‘To be cured we we must rise from our graves and throw off the cerements of the dead.’
- ‘In an early scene, Hamlet begs the ghost to tell ‘Why thy canoniz'd bones… Have burst their cerements.’’
- ‘More dramatic yet is the tomb of General William Hargrave, also in Westminster Abbey, by Louis - Francois Roubiliac, in which the deceased is shown breaking free of his cerements, apparently already confident of his salvation.’
Early 17th century (first used by Shakespeare in Hamlet, 1602): from cere (see cerecloth).
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