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dolmen

[dohl-men, -muh n, dol-] /ˈdoʊl mɛn, -mən, ˈdɒl-/
noun, Archaeology
1.
a structure usually regarded as a tomb, consisting of two or more large, upright stones set with a space between and capped by a horizontal stone.
Also called portal tomb.
Compare chamber tomb.
Origin
1855-1860
1855-60; < French < Cornish, lenited form of tolmen hole of stone (taken by French archeologists to mean cromlech)
Related forms
dolmenic
[dohl-men-ik, dol-] /doʊlˈmɛn ɪk, dɒl-/ (Show IPA),
adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for portal-tomb

dolmen

/ˈdɒlmɛn/
noun
1.
(in British archaeology) a Neolithic stone formation, consisting of a horizontal stone supported by several vertical stones, and thought to be a tomb
2.
(in French archaeology) any megalithic tomb
Word Origin
C19: from French, probably from Old Breton tol table, from Latin tabula board + Breton mēn stone, of Celtic origin; see table
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for portal-tomb

dolmen

n.

1859, from French dolmin applied 1796 by French general and antiquarian Théophile Malo Corret de La Tour d'Auvergne (1743-1800), perhaps from Cornish tolmen "enormous stone slab set up on supporting points," such that a man may walk under it, literally "hole of stone," from Celtic men "stone."

Some suggest the first element may be Breton taol "table," a loan-word from Latin tabula "board, plank," but the Breton form of this compound would be taolvean. "There is reason to think that this [tolmen] is the word inexactly reproduced by Latour d'Auvergne as dolmin, and misapplied by him and succeeding French archaeologists to the cromlech" [OED]. See cromlech, which is properly an upright flat stone, often arranged as one of a circle.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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