Definition of mortuary in English:



  • A funeral home or morgue.

    • ‘We're not allowed to film coffins being offloaded at Dover Air Force Base, where the national mortuary is.’
    • ‘Those who work at the Department of Defense's only mortuary in the continental United States see firsthand a grim reality of war.’
    • ‘The body was viewed by the district medical officer, who ordered its removal to San Fernando mortuary.’
    • ‘The bodies keep coming to this mortuary in the southern Indian city of Chennai.’
    • ‘He also co-owns a chain of mortuaries, which kept him occupied in down years.’
    • ‘The funeral home and mortuary had been in our family for decades.’
    morgue, funeral parlour, funeral chapel, funeral home
    chapel of rest
    charnel house, dead house, lych-house
    View synonyms


  • [attributive] Relating to burial or tombs.

    ‘mortuary rituals’
    ‘a mortuary temple’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One interpretation is that the cave became a focus for mortuary rituals, including the defleshing of the dead.’
    • ‘Direct evidence for Mississippian mortuary ceremonialism, however, has not been widely reported in the Central Illinois River valley.’
    • ‘However, this hypothesis has never been systematically tested using mortuary data from sites representing this time period.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A prehistoric bear shaman figurine was recovered from Ohio Hopewell mortuary contexts at Newark, Licking County, Ohio.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One of the most compelling features of the pyramids, in addition to the architectural feat of just building them, was their mortuary art.’
    • ‘Family members deliver these items through mortuary rituals, especially those performed annually on the deceased's death anniversary.’
    • ‘Thus, it is possible that the habitation area tested in 1991 and the mortuary area excavated in the 1960s were at least partly contemporaneous.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Ramesseum, a mortuary temple, contains a sixty-six foot tall seated statue of the pharaoh.’
    • ‘Outbreaks of disease and changes in attitudes toward mortuary customs are all reflected in the structure and organization of the Grafton cemetery.’
    • ‘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.’


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.