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Borrowed from Latin columbārium.


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columbarium (plural columbariums or columbaria)

  1. (historical) A large, sometimes architecturally impressive building for housing a large colony of pigeons or doves, particularly those of ancien regime France; a dovecote.
    • 1885, Philip Smith, History of the World from the Creation to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, volume 2:
      Their sides present the well-known appearance of the Roman columbaria (dove-cotes), but with the important difference, that they are adapted to contain coffins instead of urns, the holes being about 2 feet square and 6 feet deep.
    • 1979, Leonard Swidler, Biblical Affirmations of Woman, page 61:
      Doves were culticly protected; great towers were built for them in which they could nest; they were called columbaria (columba is the Latin word for dove).
    • 2008, Stanley Graham, Barnoldswich, page 34:
      Fish ponds were stocked with netted fish during the summer as a source of protein and dove cotes, or as the Romans called them, 'columbariums', were another.
  2. A pigeonhole in such a dovecote.
  3. (especially Hong Kong) A building, a vault or a similar place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns containing cremated remains
    • 1873, an unknown translator, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense, translation of original by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, part 2:
      We have seen how it is originally language which works on the construction of concepts, a labor taken over in later ages by science. Just as the bee simultaneously constructs cells and fills them with honey, so science works unceasingly on this great columbarium of concepts, the graveyard of perceptions.
    • 2004, Douglas Keister, Stories in Stone, →ISBN, OCLC 53045242, page 13:
      The columbarium (vaults lined with recesses for cinerary urns) in the form of a grotto (a cave-like structure) is the centerpiece of the Elks plot.
  4. A niche in such a building for housing urns.


See also[edit]



From columba (dove) +‎ -ārium (place for).



columbārium n (genitive columbāriī); second declension

  1. dovecote
  2. (architecture) a hole for a horizontal member such as a joist or rafter; a gain or mortise
  3. a hole in the side of a waterwheel near its axle, where the water lifted by the wheel exits
  4. (nautical) an opening for oars in the side of a vessel
  5. (burial) an underground chamber for interring cremated remains, with niches for the urns of ashes


Second declension.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative columbārium columbāria
Genitive columbāriī columbāriōrum
Dative columbāriō columbāriīs
Accusative columbārium columbāria
Ablative columbāriō columbāriīs
Vocative columbārium columbāria