noun, plural sarcophagi [sahr-kof-uh-jahy] , sarcophaguses.
a stone coffin, especially one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, etc., often displayed as a monument.
Greek Antiquity. a kind of stone thought to consume the flesh of corpses, used for coffins.

1595–1605; < Latin < Greek sarkophágos, noun use of the adj.; see sarcophagous Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sarcophagus (sɑːˈkɒfəɡəs)
n , pl -gi, -guses
a stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
[C17: via Latin from Greek sarkophagos flesh-devouring; from the type of stone used, which was believed to destroy the flesh of corpses]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"stone coffin," 1601, from L. sarcophagus, from Gk. sarkophagos "limestone used for coffins," lit. "flesh-eating," in reference to the supposed action of this type of limestone (quarried near Assos in Troas) in quickly decomposing the body, from sarx (gen. sarkos) "flesh" (see
sarcasm) + phagein "to eat" (see -phagous). The stone sense was the earliest in Eng,; meaning "stone coffin, often with inscriptions or decorative carvings" is recorded from 1705. The L. word, shortened in V.L. to *sarcus, is the source of Fr. cercueil, Ger. Sarg "coffin," Du. zerk "tombstone."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


stone coffin. The original term is of doubtful meaning; Pliny explains that the word denotes a coffin of limestone from the Troad (the region around Troy) which had the property of dissolving the body quickly (Greek sarx, "flesh"; phagein, "to eat"). This explanation is questionable; religious and folkloristic ideas may have been involved in calling a coffin a body eater. The word came into general use as the name for a large coffin in imperial Rome and is now used as an archaeological term

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The plan is to eventually dismantle the sarcophagus and the exploded reactor
  inside the new shelter.
One thing the paintings don't reveal is who lurks inside the sarcophagus.
Fortunately she had trained herself to sleep in the supine pose of a marble
  saint on a sarcophagus lid.
One sarcophagus has provided a family with a smooth surface for washing clothes.
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