Cemetery/ graveyard

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Eric Verville, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. Eric Verville Member

    France French
    Hi everyone,
    I'd like to ask a question out of curiosity. What's the difference between the words cemetery/ graveyard. Yeah I know, they are synonymous. But sometimes synonyms do not have exactly the same connotations. Is there a subtle semantic nuance between both? or are thet really interchangeable?

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  2. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    English - AmE
    'Cemetery' is somewhat euphemistic. 'Graveyard' is more to-the-point. I wouldn't expect the word 'graveyard' to be in the title of any cemetery, and I wouldn't expect the word 'graveyard' to be used by anyone at a funeral.

    Perhaps it over-emphasizes the fact that it's where you go to dump people in holes, but 'graveyard' is just generally a less 'acceptable' variety of the name of the place.

  3. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    Also, a cemetery is a separate establishment. When a burial ground attached to a church, the place is not called a cemetery although it might be called a graveyard.
  4. Eric Verville Member

    France French
    Thank you very much, guys! :)
  5. panzerfaust0 Senior Member

    Hello. I wonder about the difference between these two words, "cemetery" and "graveyard". I think that "graveyard" is slightly more archaic. It was the word to use to refer to the area where people were buried. It was often associated with the church. Whereas "cemetery" is the modern usage. It also conjures up an image with nice, orderly, straight-rows of grave-sites. A cemetery is usually well-kept whereas a graveyard is disorderly.

    Am I correct? Thanks.
  6. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Panzerfaust0, I've merged your thread with one of the existing threads on this topic. The posts here will probably answer some of your questions, but if not, feel free to add to the thread.

    English Only moderator
  7. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I agree with much of what was said earlier, but there is an additional factor that hasn't been specifically mentioned, and that's that certain words are subject to fashion trends, and that is certainly true for the word for where we bury our dead. Graveyard gave way to cemetery and now, in some cases, cemetery has given way to memorial park. They all technically mean the same thing, but each is more euphemistic than the earlier one. Cemetery is, I would say, almost certainly still the most popular, but small burial places are still often called graveyards. I've very seldom heard memorial park used by actual people talking about where their family members are buried, but you do see it sometimes used as part of the official name of some cemeteries.
  8. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Apart from the connotations of both words, a cemetery is not found within the bounds of a church.
    A cemetery is nowadays usually a large park specifically set out for burial.

    A graveyard may be found within the bounds of a church or elsewhere.

    Graveyard is specifically used in its extended meaning of a large [archaeological] deposits of animal bones, of maritime areas where many ships have sunk and figuratively for the place in which [potentially] unsuccessful ideas and projects come to an end.

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