Definition of mortuary in US English:



  • A funeral home or morgue.

    • ‘Following her death, the trust was also criticised for the difficulty the family had in seeing her body in the mortuary, which was said to be off-limits at the weekend.’
    • ‘The man's brain had been kept in a standard, sealed container in the autopsy room in the hospital mortuary.’
    • ‘The doctors were either too busy or unavailable to visit the mortuary to review the body after death.’
    • ‘Principals and teachers from the affected schools arrived at the scene and waited with parents at the hospital and at the mortuary for the dead to be identified.’
    • ‘Her son said that when undertakers arrived to remove her body from the hospital mortuary two days later, the rings were missing from her fingers.’
    • ‘The funeral home and mortuary had been in our family for decades.’
    • ‘They were reinterred several hours later after a Home Office pathologist, in the presence of an independent pathologist, carried out a new post-mortem examination at a local mortuary.’
    • ‘The District Medical Officer viewed and ordered the body to be removed to the mortuary, pending an autopsy.’
    • ‘Then came the appalling task of formally identifying their daughter's body in the mortuary at the Bristol hospital.’
    • ‘He also co-owns a chain of mortuaries, which kept him occupied in down years.’
    • ‘We're not allowed to film coffins being offloaded at Dover Air Force Base, where the national mortuary is.’
    • ‘The bodies keep coming to this mortuary in the southern Indian city of Chennai.’
    • ‘He also introduced a rickshaw service, which takes unclaimed bodies from the government mortuary for a proper burial.’
    • ‘For extra payment, undertakers began to offer wealthier people new facilities without the taint of the public mortuary to store their dead away from home.’
    • ‘But when the families went to pick up the bodies from the hospital mortuary, they were presented with a bill.’
    • ‘After searching frantically in the local hospitals he eventually found his wife's body in a mortuary.’
    • ‘Their bodies were taken to the Grahamstown mortuary where postmortem examinations will be held today.’
    • ‘The controversy over the bodies in the mortuary continues, but this time at national level.’
    • ‘After his retirement he continued with coroner's post-mortem examinations at the municipal mortuary.’
    • ‘Police sealed off the area while scenes of crime officers photographed the incident site and carried out a forensic examination before the body was removed to the mortuary at York District Hospital.’
    • ‘His widow yesterday visited the mortuary where his body lay, as the independent inquiry began into his death.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, he has appealed to churches, community leaders and other stakeholders to help the local authorities address the issue of unclaimed bodies in hospital mortuaries.’
    • ‘She lay dead in the mortuary of the hospital for two weeks before her family was notified.’
    • ‘Though the disclosure was controversial, there is no doubt that this was the scoop of the year, and the picture of the bodies in the mortuary were sought by many newspapers round the world.’
    • ‘The body was viewed by the district medical officer, who ordered its removal to San Fernando mortuary.’
    • ‘Those who work at the Department of Defense's only mortuary in the continental United States see firsthand a grim reality of war.’
    morgue, funeral parlour, funeral chapel, funeral home
    View synonyms


  • attributive Relating to burial or tombs.

    ‘mortuary rituals’
    ‘a mortuary temple’
    • ‘The Ramesseum, a mortuary temple, contains a sixty-six foot tall seated statue of the pharaoh.’
    • ‘Many of these vessels show signs of wear and repair, and, therefore, cannot have been made expressly for the mortuary rite but were either owned by the deceased or given by the mourners.’
    • ‘One of the most compelling features of the pyramids, in addition to the architectural feat of just building them, was their mortuary art.’
    • ‘Outbreaks of disease and changes in attitudes toward mortuary customs are all reflected in the structure and organization of the Grafton cemetery.’
    • ‘Ramesses III erected buildings at many sites throughout Egypt - the most famous edifice being the mortuary temple, Medinet Habu, near the Valley of the Kings.’
    • ‘One interpretation is that the cave became a focus for mortuary rituals, including the defleshing of the dead.’
    • ‘In conclusion, therefore, it is evident that the two major characteristics of the mortuary rituals described in this article are merriment and licence, especially of a sexual nature, and ritual mourning.’
    • ‘Thus, it is possible that the habitation area tested in 1991 and the mortuary area excavated in the 1960s were at least partly contemporaneous.’
    • ‘Recent surveys of these sites, as well as one archaeological test excavation, give insights into the skeletal biology and mortuary practices of the individuals interred.’
    • ‘From here, the burial cortège, priests and visitors would pass through ceremonial halls onto a causeway that ascended the desert escarpment to the mortuary temple, built against the east face of the pyramid.’
    • ‘The use of caves as mortuary sites by prehistoric Native Americans was widespread in the karst region of southwest Virginia.’
    • ‘The Archaic tradition is subdivided into early, middle, and late stages based on variations in technology, mortuary behavior, and subsistence.’
    • ‘Burial monuments and other mortuary rituals are often costly and elaborate.’
    • ‘Particularly significant are the jet, amber and quartz items, valued as mortuary goods from prehistoric times onwards for their electrostatic and refractive properties.’
    • ‘Direct evidence for Mississippian mortuary ceremonialism, however, has not been widely reported in the Central Illinois River valley.’
    • ‘Family members deliver these items through mortuary rituals, especially those performed annually on the deceased's death anniversary.’
    • ‘So the evidence is certainly mounting that Neanderthals, at least on occasion and in some areas of Eurasia, practised a variety of mortuary activities before and alongside burial.’
    • ‘More recent research on this topic proffered the notion that certain mortuary districts, composed of mounds or cemeteries, functioned as trade fair locations.’
    • ‘A prehistoric bear shaman figurine was recovered from Ohio Hopewell mortuary contexts at Newark, Licking County, Ohio.’
    • ‘However, this hypothesis has never been systematically tested using mortuary data from sites representing this time period.’


Late Middle English (denoting a gift claimed by a parish priest from a deceased person's estate): from Latin mortuarius, from mortuus ‘dead’. The current noun sense dates from the mid 19th century.