I know that I generally use the word 'Cemetery' when it comes to the place we put people to rest. We often however hear the phrase Graveyard and attribute it to the same thing. They are however slightly different.
Essentially they are used for the exact same purpose, to put a person to rest and to have a place to go to pay tribute to a loved one. It turns out however that there is one small difference between a cemetery and a graveyard...... that difference is a church.
Centuries ago, the act of burial was something that was run by a Church. The term Graveyard first appeared in the Oxford dictionary in 1767. A church would commonly have a small area where graves were held. Hence the term graveyard. These were small areas of land as they were owned and run by the church. It was a yard full of graves hence the term graveyard. Families would also commonly create their own graveyards on their properties as well.
As demand for burials increased in Europe, so did the demand for land to bury a person on. A cemetery was born. It was a large plot of land owned privately with graves, however, there is no church attached. The word cemetery is much older and goes back to Roman times and refers to a large burial ground (with no mention of a church). As the term has been around a lot longer and is more common, it seems to be the main phrase people use. The word Cemetery is a French term and means 'sleeping place' so it is really quite fitting.
While they are slightly different, they are both a place where the deceased are laid to rest. A graveyard is a lot smaller than a cemetery. A cemetery also means that you don't need to be a part of a particular church in order to be buried there.
What term do you commonly use?
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