Glossary of Terms

Algor Mortis: cooling of the body to room temperature immediately after death and temporary stiffening of muscles

Ambulance: vehicle especially built and equipped to transport injured, sick or incapacitated people

Apprentice: someone working under the supervision of a licensed director who is learning the funeral business

Apportionment: when cremated remains are divided for separate disposition (like putting some in an urn for spreading at a favorite location)

Arrangement Conference: meeting with the funeral director to make funeral arrangements

Arrangement Room: room at the funeral home where the family of the deceased makes funeral arrangements

Aspirate: process that removes gases and fluids from the abdominal cavity

Attorney in Fact: a person who is granted the power of attorney


Background Drapes: decorative drapes arranged on a frame to be placed as background behind the casket

Beneficiary: recipient of the proceeds of an insurance policy or will

Bereaved: immediate family of the deceased. (verb) suffering from grief upon the death of a loved one.

Bequest: gift of property made in a will

Burial: putting a dead body in an underground chamber of earth

Burial Certificate/ Permit: local government issued legal paper that authorizes burial or cremation

Burial Garments: apparel made for the deceased

Burial Insurance: insurance policy that pays out in funeral services and merchandise

Burial Vault: a container for holding a casket for earth burial


Canopy: portable canvas shelter or tent used to cover the gravesite during burial or committal service

Casket (Coffin, Burial Case): container made of metal, wood, fiberglass or plastic designed for placing human remains for burial

Casket Veil: silk transparent net that covers the casket to keep insects off the remains

Catafalque: stand on which the casket rests during the funeral service and during the viewing

Cemetery: area of ground that is set aside for entombment or burial of the deceased

Cenotaph: empty tomb or erected monument in memory of a person buried somewhere else

Certified Death Certificate: legal copy of the original death certificate that is issued by local authorities at the family's request used to substantiate claims for insurance and other death benefits

Chapel: large room in the funeral home used to hold funeral services

Church Truck: collapsible catafalque used for funerals

Codicil: amendment to the will that changes the original provisions

Coffin: wedge shaped burial cases that is most often eight sided

Columbarium: building or structure containing vaults lined with recesses or niches to house urns holding cremated remains

Committal Service: final section of the funeral service in which the deceased are entombed or interred

Container: a pressboard or fiberboard box the size of a casket usually used for immediate/direct cremations; alternative container.

Contest: legal challenge or question to the validity of a will

Coroner: public official who investigates the cause of death if it appears to be other than natural causes, or if no physician was present for a time period prior to death

Cortege: funeral procession

Cosmetology: utilization of cosmetics to help restore a life-like appearance to the deceased

Cot: stretcher-like carrier used to remove deceased persons from the place of death to the funeral home

Cremains or Cremated Remains: what remains of a body after cremation - also called ashes

Cremation: reducing the body to ashes by fire

Cremation Permit: local government issued certificate that authorizes cremation of the deceased

Crematory: building with a furnace designed for cremating human remains

Crypt: room or vault used for keeping remains


Death: Cessation of all vital functions with no chance of resuscitation

Death Certificate: legal document signed by attending physician or coroner certifying cause of death and other vital statistics pertaining to the deceased

Death Notice: paragraph usually in the newspaper that informs people of a person's death and gives them details the survivors want published along with funeral service information

Deceased: person in whom all physical life has ceased

Direct Cremation: Body is transferred from the place of death to the funeral home, and delivered directly to a crema_tory. No public viewing.

Disinter: to dig up or remove remains from a burial place

Display Room: room in the funeral home that is set aside to display urns, caskets, burial garments and vaults that are available to purchase

Disposition: final resting place for the body or for cremated remains

Door Badge: floral spray that is placed on the door of a residence to announce a death


Embalm: preserving a dead body by circulating preservative and antiseptic through the arteries and veins

Embalmer: person who preserves human remains, prepares bodies for transport and restores features for open casket viewings

Embalming Fluid: liquid chemicals that are used to preserve human remains

Embalming Table: operating table made of metal with a porcelain surface where remains are laced for embalming

Entombment: Placement of the body in a casket above ground in a mausoleum

Ethics: moral code which guides the members of the profession in proper conduct of their duties and obligations

Eulogy: public speaking at a funeral that honors the deceased

Executor: administrator of an estate

Exhume: digging up human remains


Family Car: limousine used for the immediate family in a funeral procession

Family Room: room in the funeral home that provides the family with privacy at the time of the funeral service

Final Disposition: the last process for the remains

Final Rites: the funeral service

First Call: first visit by the funeral director to the place of death to remove the deceased and obtain necessary information

Flower Car: vehicle that transports flowers from the funeral home to the church and cemetery

Flower Stands and Racks: metal or wooden racks and stands of different heights used for banking flowers around the casket

Funeral Arrangements: conference with the funeral director and family to complete service and financial details of a funeral

Funeral Director/ Mortician: certified and trained professional who prepares, arranges and supervises human remains for burial or cremation, maintains a funeral home, counsels and assists survivors

Funeral Home: building used for arranging and conducting funerals and embalming

Funeral Insurance/Burial Insurance: an insurance policy that covers costs related to the funeral or provides money for a funeral upon death of the insured

Funeral Procession: procession of motor vehicles between the church and cemetery

Funeral Service: religious or other rites performed before final disposition of a deceased body

Funeral Spray: collective bouquets of cut flowers sent to the funeral home or residence of the deceased as a tribute to them


Grave: excavation into the earth in which the deceased is buried

Grave Liner: receptacle the casket is placed into made of metal, concrete or wood to provide an extra precaution to protect the remains from the elements

Grave or Memorial Marker: usually made of stone or metal and is used to identify occupants of particular graves and provides basic information

Green Burial or Direct Burial: burial of a body without chemical preservation in a simple container to preserve the earth


Hearse/Casket Coach: motor coach designed and used to bring casketed remains from the funeral service location to the cemetery

Honorary Pallbearers: friends or members of an organization who act as escorts or honor guards for the deceased and do not actually carry the casket

Hospice: an organization dedicated to the care of the terminally ill


In State: custom that presents deceased for viewing by friends and relatives either before or after the funeral service

Inquest: official examination or inquiry before a jury to determine cause of death

Interment: act of burying a body in a grave

Intestate: having no legal will left behind

Inurnment: placing of cremated remains into an urn


There are no J terms.


There are no K terms.


Lead Car: car that leads the funeral procession

License: authorization from the state that grants permission to perform duties that would otherwise be illegal

Life Insurance Trust: trust fund from money provided by life insurance

Living Trust: trust that has been established during the life of the trustee

Living Will: legal document detailing the wishes of an individual concerning his/her medical care, particularly in respect to resuscitation and life sustaining technology

Lowering Device: mechanism placed over the open grave with two or more straps to secure the casket and then used to lower the casket into the grave


Mausoleum: private or public building containing above ground crypts or tombs

Medical Examiner: government official, usually a medical professional, whose function is to perform autopsies on bodies dead from crime, violence, suicide, etc., and investigate circumstances of death

Memorial Service: religious ceremony that is conducted in memory of the deceased without the remains present

Minister's Room: room in the funeral home designated for the clergyman to robe or make last minute preparations for the service before the service

Morgue: place where human remains are kept pending identification or autopsy

Mortuary: a synonym for funeral home - a building specifically designed and constructed for caring for the dead.

Mortuary Science: part of funeral service profession that deals with proper preparation of human remains for final disposition


Niche: hollowed out space in a wall made to place urns containing cremated remains

Niche Garden: outdoor garden containing structures with niches


Obituary: notice of death that contains biographical details of the deceased; usually a newspaper notice

Opening and Closing Fees: cemetery fees for digging and refilling a grave


Pallbearers: relatives or friends who carry the casket during a funeral service

Plot: area of ground in a cemetery that is owned by a family or individual and usually contains multiple graves

Perpetual Care Trust Fund: portion of burial plot cost set aside in trust for ongoing care

Prearranged Funeral: funeral arranged and paid for by an individual prior to their death

Prearranged Funeral Trust or Funeral Trust: method that allows individuals to pre-pay for funeral expenses by holding money in trust until needed to pay for funeral costs

Pre-Planning or Pre-need: arranging of all aspects of a funeral before death, including the financing

Probate: court process that proves the validity of a will

Purge: discharge from the mouth, ears and nose of deceased caused by improper embalming

Preparation Room: room in the funeral home equipped and designed to prepare the deceased for final disposition

Preparation Table: operating table in the preparation room on which the body is placed for embalming and dressing

Putrefaction: decomposition of the body upon death which causes discoloration and the formation of a foul smelling product


There are no Q terms.


Register: book made available by the funeral director to record the names of people visiting the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased as well as entering data on deceased (name, dates of birth and death, etc.)

Remains: body of deceased

Reposing Room: room in the funeral home where body lies in state when casketed until time of service

Restorative Art: derma surgery that is used to restore distorted and mutilated features on the deceased using plaster, wax, creams, etc.

Right of Survivorship: occurs when joint property owner proves for passing of all property into the hands of surviving joint owner

Rigor Mortis: rigidity of the muscles which occurs at death


Service Car: utility vehicle belonging to funeral home or cemetery and is used to transport chairs, flower

Slumber Room: room equipped with a bed where the deceased is placed, appropriately dressed and lies in state until casketed

Spiritual Banquet: Roman Catholic practice that involves specific prayers like Masses and Rosaries

Survivors: people outliving deceased, usually refers to family members


Testator: person making valid will

Tomb: chamber excavated from rock or earth to receive human remains

Trade Embalmer: licensed embalmer not employed by a specific funeral home, but provides independent services to funeral homes

Transit Permit: legal paper issued by local government that allows a body to be transported to burial place

Trust: monetary fund held and managed by one person to benefit an individual or others


Urn: container made of stone, wood or metal to hold cremated remains

Urn Garden: garden that contains urn burial sites

Urn Placement: permanent placement of an urn into a burial site or niche


Vault: a burial chamber underground or partly underground

Viatical: purchase of a life-insurance policy from a terminally ill person

Viewing: when the deceased is available to be visited and seen by friends and relatives before or after the funeral service

Vigil: Roman Catholic religious service held the night before funeral services

Visitation: private opportunity typically in a special room in the funeral home that allows survivors and friends to view the deceased before the service

Visitation Room: room in the funeral home where the body lies before the funeral service for people to view the deceased


Wake: watch kept over deceased that can last the entire night preceding the funeral

Will: legal document stating intentions of deceased on the care of their remains and dispersal of their belongings along with other relevant issues


There are no X terms.


There are no Y terms.


There are no Z terms.