"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


The common use of the word mortuary is as an alternative to morgue to describe a building or room (as in a hospital) used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification, or removal for autopsy, burial, cremation or some other post-death ritual. They are usually refrigerated to avoid decomposition. The word also describes any licensed, regulated business that provides for the care, planning and preparation of human remains for their final resting place.

There is a however a far wider meaning of the word - of or relating to or characteristic of death or relating to the burial of the dead.

But if you come across the word in an old document it may well have referred to a gift made to the parish priest on the death of a parishioner - usually the second best animal. (The first animal had often gone to the Lord of the Manor as a heriot and the mortuary often wasn't made because there was no second animal!)


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