noun \ˈka-tə-ˌkōm\

: an underground place where people are buried

Full Definition of CATACOMB

:  a subterranean cemetery of galleries with recesses for tombs —usually used in plural
:  something resembling a catacomb: as
a :  an underground passageway or group of passageways
b :  a complex set of interrelated things <the endless catacombs of formal education — Kingman Brewster †1988>

Examples of CATACOMB

  1. <explored the catacombs looking for evidence about burial customs of that ancient society>

Origin of CATACOMB

Middle English catacumb, Middle French catacombe, probably from Old Italian catacomba, from Late Latin catacumbae, plural
First Known Use: 15th century

Related to CATACOMB


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Arched niche of a tomb with early Christian paintings of scenes from the Old and New Testaments, in …—Pont. Comm. di Arch. Sacra/M. Grimoldi

Subterranean cemetery of galleries with recesses for tombs. The term was probably first applied to the cemetery under St. Sebastian's Basilica that was a temporary resting place for the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul in the late 3rd century AD, but it came to refer to all the subterranean cemeteries around Rome. In addition to serving as burial sites, catacombs in early Christian Rome were the sites of funeral feasts celebrated in family vaults on the day of burial and on anniversaries. They were used as hiding places during times of persecution; Pope Sixtus II was supposedly captured and killed (AD 258) while hiding in the St. Sebastian's catacomb during Valerian's persecution. Catacombs are also found in Sicily and other parts of Italy, in Egypt, and in Lebanon.


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