the catacombs


Usually, catacombs. an underground cemetery, especially one consisting of tunnels and rooms with recesses dug out for coffins and tombs.
the Catacombs, the subterranean burial chambers of the early Christians in and near Rome, Italy.
an underground passageway, especially one full of twists and turns.

before 900; Middle English catacombe, Old English catacumbe < Late Latin catacumbās (accusative plural); of disputed orig.; perhaps < Greek *katakýmbās, equivalent to kata- cata- + kýmbās, accusative plural of kýmbē hollow, cup

catacumbal [kat-uh-kuhm-buhl] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
catacomb (ˈkætəˌkəʊm, -ˌkuːm)
1.  (usually plural) an underground burial place, esp the galleries at Rome, consisting of tunnels with vaults or niches leading off them for tombs
2.  a series of interconnected underground tunnels or caves
[Old English catacumbe, from Late Latin catacumbas (singular), name of the cemetery under the Basilica of St Sebastian, near Rome; origin unknown]

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

O.E. catacumbas, from L.L. (400 C.E.) catacumbae, originally the region of underground tombs between the 2nd and 3rd milestones of the Appian Way (where the bodies of apostles Paul and Peter were said to have been laid), origin obscure, perhaps once a proper name, or dissimilation from L. cata tumbas
"at the graves," from cata- "among" + tumbas, acc. pl. of tumba "tomb." Extended 1836 to any subterranean receptacle of the dead (as in Paris).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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