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1. often catacombs An underground cemetery consisting of chambers or tunnels with recesses for graves.
2. An underground, often labyrinthine passageway.

[From French catacombes (plural), from Middle French Cathacombes, the name of a complex of Christian catacombs near the Appian Way on the outskirts of ancient Rome in which Saint Sebastian was said to be buried, ultimately from Late Latin Catacumbas, possibly from the name of the location before it was used as a burial site (perhaps originally the Greek name of a tavern on the Appian Way, *Kata Kumbās, literally "Under the Drinking Cups" : Greek kata, under; see cata- + Greek kumbē, shallow bowl, drinking cup, saucer; see cymbidium), or possibly from alteration (influenced by Latin -cumbere, to lie, as in recumbere, to lie down) of *Catatumbas : Greek kata + perhaps Late Latin tumbās, accusative plural of tumba, tomb; see tomb.]


(ˈkætəˌkəʊm; -ˌkuːm)
1. (Building) (usually plural) an underground burial place, esp the galleries at Rome, consisting of tunnels with vaults or niches leading off them for tombs
2. (Building) a series of interconnected underground tunnels or caves
3. (Physical Geography) 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]


(ˈkæt əˌkoʊm)

1. Usu., catacombs. an underground cemetery, esp. one consisting of tunnels and rooms with recesses dug out for coffins and tombs.
2. the Catacombs, the subterranean burial chambers of the early Christians in and near Rome, Italy.
3. an underground passageway, esp. one full of twists and turns.
[before 900; Middle English catacombe, Old English catacumbe < Late Latin catacumbās (acc. pl.)]


A subterranean burial ground, best known as used by the early Christians outside the walls of Rome.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.catacomb - an underground tunnel with recesses where bodies were buried (as in ancient Rome)catacomb - an underground tunnel with recesses where bodies were buried (as in ancient Rome)
tunnel - a passageway through or under something, usually underground (especially one for trains or cars); "the tunnel reduced congestion at that intersection"
capital of Italy, Eternal City, Italian capital, Rome, Roma - capital and largest city of Italy; on the Tiber; seat of the Roman Catholic Church; formerly the capital of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire
antiquity - the historic period preceding the Middle Ages in Europe


A burial place or receptacle for human remains:
References in periodicals archive ?
Les ossements de ce mysterieux saint provenaient des catacombes de Rome.
Dans une declaration accordee a Shems, Fm, l'archeologue a annonce que pour la premiere fois des catacombes chretiennes sont decouvertes a Carthage.
Suffice it to mention January 1956's "La critique des catacombes," depicting the "Catacombs film criticism" emanating from the cine-clubs and the Cinematheque, and extending to Positif as well.
The reference to martyrdom is implicit in a title such as Catacombes (Supra Denominational Messenger of the Church of Silence), a periodical first issued in 1971 in Paris by a Rumanian emigre, Serge Grossu.
L'ensemble des etudiants s'est ensuite retrouve a Alexandrie, a la decouverte de l'archeologie sous-marine, des catacombes de Kom el Choukafa, mais encore de la Bibliotheque d'Alexandrie.
Recherches sur les catacombes romaines, Rome, 1987.
La rue Neuve-Sainte-Genevieve surtout est comme un cadre de bronze, le seul qui convienne a ce recit, auquel on ne saurait trop preparer l'intelligence par des couleurs brunes, par des idees graves; ainsi que, de marche en marche, le jour diminue et le chant du conducteur se creuse, alors que voyageur descend aux Catacombes.
Le Cemetiere aux deux Lauriers: Recherches sur les catacombes romaines.
7) Elie Stephenson, Catacombes de Soleil (Paris: Editions Caribeennes, 1979) 13-14.