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sarcophagus

[sahr-kof-uh-guh s] /sɑrˈkɒf ə gəs/
noun, plural sarcophagi
[sahr-kof-uh-jahy] /sɑrˈkɒf əˌdʒaɪ/ (Show IPA),
sarcophaguses.
1.
a stone coffin, especially one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, etc., often displayed as a monument.
2.
Greek Antiquity. a kind of stone thought to consume the flesh of corpses, used for coffins.
Origin
1595-1605
1595-1605; < Latin < Greek sarkophágos, noun use of the adj.; see sarcophagous
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for sarcophagi
  • Scientists have also detected ammonia gas, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide inside sealed sarcophagi.
  • The tombs held dazzling funereal treasures such as golden masks, coffins of silver, and elaborate sarcophagi.
  • Types of burial containers including urns, caskets, and sarcophagi.
  • Eight of the mummies were in stone coffins, or sarcophagi.
British Dictionary definitions for sarcophagi

sarcophagus

/sɑːˈkɒfəɡəs/
noun (pl) -gi (-ˌɡaɪ), -guses
1.
a stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
Word Origin
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 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 sarcophagi
n.

plural of sarcophagus (q.v.).

sarcophagus

n.

c.1600, "type of stone used for coffins," from Latin sarcophagus, from Greek sarkophagos "limestone used for coffins," literally "flesh-eating," in reference to the supposed action of this type of limestone (quarried near Assos in Troas, hence the Latin lapis Assius) in quickly decomposing the body, from sarx (genitive sarkos) "flesh" (see sarcasm) + phagein "to eat" (see -phagous). Related: Sarcophagal.

The "stone" sense was the earliest in English; meaning "stone coffin, often with inscriptions or decorative carvings" is recorded from 1705. The Latin word, shortened in Vulgar Latin to *sarcus, is the source of French cercueil, German Sarg "coffin," Dutch zerk "tombstone."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for sarcophagi

sarcophagus

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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