Definition of embalm in US English:



[with object]
  • 1often as noun embalmingPreserve (a corpse) from decay, originally with spices and now usually by arterial injection of a preservative.

    ‘the Egyptian method of embalming’
    • ‘Passionately devoted to her husband she was brokenhearted when he died in 1269 and had his body embalmed and his heart placed in a small, silver-enamelled ivory casket which she carried with her everywhere.’
    • ‘No proper post-mortem was carried out on Mrs Gregory because her body was released and embalmed prematurely.’
    • ‘And myrrh, a spicy resin used for embalming the dead, was meant to point to Jesus' Passion.’
    • ‘Stow stated that the victorious Earl of Surrey took the king's corpse - which he had embalmed - to a monastery in Surrey as a prize to show his monarch, Henry VIII.’
    • ‘The autopsies were controversial, as Muslim tradition calls for bodies not to be embalmed or in any way retouched and for them to be buried before sundown on the day of death.’
    • ‘And they're not embalmed, just killed and incinerated.’
    • ‘The Longhua Funeral Home has set up a department especially for foreigners, which helps to embalm and pack the corpses and deal with the procedures required to transport them from the country.’
    • ‘The body of Hephaestion was embalmed and carried on to Babylon to be burned on a funeral pyre in a funeral on which he planned to spend astronomical sums.’
    • ‘The fate of Lenin was even more terrible - his remains were embalmed and his theoretical legacy was falsified and remade into a bureaucratically sanctioned state religion.’
    • ‘Paul VI was only lightly embalmed before his body was placed before the public during Rome's hot summer.’
    • ‘Marlow Wood, an American who has been embalming in Japan for the past five years, thinks that compared with the US, Japan's funeral practices make sense.’
    • ‘Stalin's body was embalmed and was presently put on display with Lenin's corpse in the renamed Lenin-Stalin Mausoleum.’
    • ‘He said it had been difficult because the body had been embalmed.’
    • ‘But Mr Lenkiewicz refused to disclose where the body was kept, saying it was the tramp's wish that his body should be embalmed and preserved.’
    • ‘The body had also been embalmed, which he said also had a bearing on the results.’
    • ‘While talking about dead bodies, you should also note that twice as much formaldehyde was needed to embalm a person 20 years ago compared to today.’
    • ‘As he stood up to leave, Digger came in, fresh from embalming a corpse, rubber gloves in hand.’
    • ‘‘But, if the body was dissected, it could not be treated with embalming fluids at all,’ Chen said.’
    • ‘Otherwise, funeral parlors embalm and show the body.’
    • ‘In Malta when a person died they were usually buried within 24 hours, and very few people were embalmed.’
    preserve, mummify, lay out, anoint
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Preserve (someone or something) in an unaltered state.
      ‘the band was all about revitalizing pop greats and embalming their legacy’
      • ‘Then embalm the ‘peace process’ indefinitely.’
      • ‘Blair's answer should be embalmed in the Labour party constitution, perhaps as a better substitute for the old clause four.’
      • ‘And I don't want to be embalmed on some literary pedestal.’
      • ‘But by the time they came to embalm the nation thirty years later, each eliminated virtually any reference to its external record from their retrospections.’
      • ‘Less than two weeks after its release, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is already on the verge of being embalmed in importance.’
      • ‘Soon after that was embalmed the idea of non-standard models emerged.’
      • ‘His reputation is embalmed, still, in the romantic notions inflicted upon it by his early, maudlin admirers.’
      • ‘Such anecdotes illuminate the dry facts and dates in which the past was formerly embalmed.’
      • ‘I left with visions of a future romance and an episode to be embalmed in words.’
      • ‘There is something embalmed about the look of most American films.’
      • ‘The smug and superior manner in which the rest of the country has embalmed the region in the 1960s, so as to better patronize it, has echoes of Europeans on an anti-American binge.’
      conserve, preserve, immortalize, enshrine
      View synonyms
  • 2archaic Give a pleasant fragrance to.

    ‘the sweetness of the linden trees embalmed all the air’


Middle English: from Old French embaumer, from em- ‘in’ + baume ‘balm’, variant of basme (see balm).