sarcophagus(redirected from Sarcophage)
Also found in: Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
n. pl. sar·coph·a·gi (-jī′) or sar·coph·a·gus·es
A stone coffin, often inscribed or decorated with sculpture.
[Latin, from Greek sarkophagos, coffin, from (lithos) sarkophagos, limestone that consumed the flesh of corpses laid in it : sarx, sark-, flesh + -phagos, -phagous.]
Word History: Sarcophagus, our term for a stone coffin located above ground, has a macabre origin befitting a macabre thing. Its ultimate source is the Greek word sarkophagos, "eating flesh, carnivorous," a compound derived from sarx, "flesh," and phagein, "to eat." Sarkophagos was also used in the phrase lithos ("stone") sarkophagos to denote a kind of limestone with caustic properties from which coffins were made in the ancient world. The Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder says that this stone was quarried near the town of Assos in the Troad and describes its remarkable properties as follows: "It is well known that the bodies of the dead placed in it will be completely consumed after forty days, except for the teeth." The Greek term sarkophagos could also be used by itself as a noun to mean simply "coffin." Greek sarkophagos was borrowed into Latin as sarcophagus and used in the phrase lapis ("stone") sarcophagus to refer to the same stone as in Greek. In Latin, too, sarcophagus came to be used as a noun meaning "coffin made of any material." The first known attestation of the word sarcophagus in English dates from 1601 and occurs in a translation of Pliny's description of the stone. Later, sarcophagus begins to be used in English with the meaning "stone coffin," especially in descriptions of sarcophagi from antiquity.
n, pl -gi (-ˌɡaɪ) or -guses
a stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
[C17: via Latin from Greek sarkophagos flesh-devouring; from the type of stone used, which was believed to destroy the flesh of corpses]
sar•coph•a•gus(sɑrˈkɒf ə gəs)
n., pl. -gi (-ˌdʒaɪ, -ˌgaɪ) -gus•es.
a stone coffin, esp. one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, etc., often displayed as a monument.
[1595–1605; < Latin < Greek sarkophágos coffin]
sarcophagus[sɑːˈkɒfəgəs] N (sarcophaguses or sarcophagi (pl)) [sɑːˈkɒfəgaɪ] → sarcófago m
sarcophagus[sɑːrˈkɒfəgəs] [sarcophagi] [sɑːrˈkɒfəgaɪ] (pl) n → sarcophage m
n pl <sarcophagi> → Sarkophag m