Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[pahyuh r] /paɪər/
a pile or heap of wood or other combustible material.
such a pile for burning a dead body, especially as part of a funeral rite, as in India.
1650-60; < Latin pyra < Greek pyrá hearth, funeral pile
Can be confused
buyer, byre, pyre. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pyres
  • Evidence of prehistoric pyres has been found along the course of the river.
  • Nearly all day and night, red- and yellow-swathed bodies burn on wood funeral pyres.
  • They also worry that all their witty little missives are simply giving critics fuel for later pyres.
  • The daily sight of sheep being slaughtered and the burning pyres has heightened public awareness of countryside issues.
  • Unwanted baggage in a patriarchal society, widows were once encouraged to fling themselves onto their husband's funeral pyres.
  • Everything from sides of yak meat to items of laundry was thrown onto the pyres.
  • The funeral pyres, once piled more than a meter high, are now nothing but smoldering heaps of ash and fragmented bone.
  • Second-hand accounts report killings and funeral pyres deep in the rain forest, and soldiers carrying off bags of human ashes.
  • Still others died inside houses that soldiers turned into funeral pyres.
  • When the priests died, the sacred books were buried with them in mountain caves or sometimes burned in funeral pyres.
British Dictionary definitions for pyres


a heap or pile of wood or other combustible material, esp one used for cremating a corpse
Word Origin
C17: from Latin pyra, from Greek pura hearth, from pur fire
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pyres



1650s, from Latin pyra and directly from Greek pyra "funeral pyre; altar for sacrifice; any place where fire is kindled," from pyr "fire," cognate with Old English fyr (see fire (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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