cenotaph

noun

ceno·​taph ˈse-nə-ˌtaf How to pronounce cenotaph (audio)
-ˌtäf
: a tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere

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The word cenotaph is derived from the Greek kenos taphos, meaning "empty tomb." A cenotaph is a monument, sometimes in the form of a tomb, to a person or group of persons buried elsewhere. Ancient Greek writings tell of many cenotaphs, although none of them survives. Existing cenotaphs of this type are found in churches (for example, in Santa Croce in Florence, where there are memorials to Dante, Machiavelli, and Galileo). The term is now applied to national war memorials.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web It was made in 1784 by Étienne-Louis Boullée, who imagined a cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton, the preeminent natural philosopher of his day. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 6 Oct. 2022 During his visit, the duke met with the victims of the shootings and laid a wreath on the cenotaph at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 2 July 2022 The 649 Argentinian soldiers who died in the conflict, one of the bloodiest events of Argentina's long military dictatorship, are remembered at a dedicated cenotaph in Buenos Aires. Richard Quest And Joe Minihane, CNN, 27 Apr. 2022 In a symbolism-laden procession, soldiers lifted her cenotaph, draped with the French flag, and carried it along a red carpet to the country’s national mausoleum. Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2021 Baker's military medals lay atop the cenotaph, which was draped in the French tricolor flag and contained soils from her birthplace in Missouri, from France and from her final resting place in Monaco. The Associated. Press, Arkansas Online, 1 Dec. 2021 Baker's military medals lay atop the cenotaph, which was draped in the French tricolor flag and contained soils from her birthplace in Missouri, from France, and from her final resting place in Monaco. Sylvie Corbet And Jeffrey Schaeffer, USA TODAY, 1 Dec. 2021 Baker’s remains will stay in Monaco, where she was buried, but her presence at the Pantheon is commemorated with a plaque on a cenotaph. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 30 Nov. 2021 Baker’s military medals lay atop the cenotaph, which was draped in the French tricolor flag and contained soils from her birthplace in Missouri, from France, and from her final resting place in Monaco. Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cenotaph.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

French cénotaphe, from Latin cenotaphium, from Greek kenotaphion, from kenos empty + taphos tomb

First Known Use

1578, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cenotaph was in 1578

Dictionary Entries Near cenotaph

Cite this Entry

“Cenotaph.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cenotaph. Accessed 10 Dec. 2022.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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