AskDefine | Define mausoleum

Dictionary Definition

mausoleum n : a large burial chamber, usually above ground [also: mausolea (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Middle English mausoleum < Latin mausōlēum < Greek mausōleion < Greek mausōlos; names for Mausolus, satrap of the Persian empire and ruler of Caria



  1. A large stately tomb or a building housing such a tomb or several tombs.
  2. A gloomy, usually large room or building.


large tomb

Extensive Definition

A mausoleum (plural: mausolea) is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum. A Christian mausoleum sometimes includes a chapel.
The word derives from the Mausoleum of Maussollos (near modern-day Bodrum in Turkey), the grave of King Mausollos, the Persian satrap of Caria, whose large tomb was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Historically, mausolea were, and still may be, large and impressive constructions for a deceased leader or other person of importance. However, smaller mausolea soon became popular with the gentry and nobility in many countries, particularly in Europe and her colonies during the early modern and modern periods. These are usually small buildings with walls, a roof and sometimes a door for additional interments or visitor access. A single mausoleum may be permanently sealed. A mausoleum encloses a burial chamber either wholly above ground or within a burial vault below the superstructure. This contains the body or bodies, probably within sarcophagi or interment niches. Modern mausolea may also act as columbaria (a type of mausoleum for cremated remains) with additional cinerary urn niches. Mausolea may be located in a cemetery, a churchyard or on private land.
In the United States, the term may be used for a burial vault below a larger facility, such as a church. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California, for example, has 6,000 sepulchral and cinerary urn spaces for interments in the lower level of the building. It is known as the 'crypt mausoleum'.

Notable mausolea

Main article: List of mausolea.
mausoleum in Bulgarian: Мавзолей
mausoleum in Czech: Mauzoleum
mausoleum in Corsican: Musuleu
mausoleum in Danish: Mausoleum
mausoleum in German: Mausoleum
mausoleum in Modern Greek (1453-): Μαυσωλείο
mausoleum in Estonian: Mausoleum
mausoleum in Spanish: Mausoleo
mausoleum in Esperanto: Maŭzoleo
mausoleum in French: Mausolée
mausoleum in Western Frisian: Mausoleum
mausoleum in Croatian: Mauzolej
mausoleum in Icelandic: Leghöll
mausoleum in Italian: Mausoleo
mausoleum in Hebrew: מאוזוליאום
mausoleum in Lithuanian: Mauzoliejus
mausoleum in Malay (macrolanguage): Makam
mausoleum in Dutch: Mausoleum
mausoleum in Japanese: 廟
mausoleum in Norwegian: Mausoleum
mausoleum in Narom: Maûsolée
mausoleum in Polish: Mauzoleum
mausoleum in Portuguese: Mausoléu
mausoleum in Russian: Мавзолей
mausoleum in Slovak: Mauzóleum
mausoleum in Serbian: Маузолеј
mausoleum in Finnish: Mausoleumi
mausoleum in Swedish: Mausoleum

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

arch, barrow, beehive tomb, bone house, boundary stone, box grave, brass, burial, burial chamber, burial mound, bust, cairn, catacombs, cenotaph, charnel house, cist, cist grave, column, cromlech, cross, crypt, cup, cyclolith, deep six, dokhma, dolmen, footstone, grave, gravestone, headstone, hoarstone, house of death, inscription, last home, long home, low green tent, low house, marker, mastaba, megalith, memento, memorial, memorial arch, memorial column, memorial statue, memorial stone, menhir, monolith, monstrance, monument, mound, mummy chamber, narrow house, necrology, obelisk, obituary, ossuarium, ossuary, passage grave, pillar, pit, plaque, prize, pyramid, reliquary, remembrance, resting place, ribbon, rostral column, sepulcher, shaft, shaft grave, shrine, stela, stone, stupa, tablet, testimonial, tomb, tombstone, tope, tower of silence, trophy, tumulus, vault
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