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See also: necrópolis



A gatepost at the entrance to the Western Necropolis (sense 1) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
A ticket bought to transport a coffin on the London Necropolis Railway, a railway line that formerly ran between London and Brookwood Cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey, England, UK, which is also known as the London Necropolis (sense 1).
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari on the west bank of the Nile opposite Luxor, Egypt, is part of the Theban Necropolis (sense 2).

Borrowed from Koine Greek νεκρόπολις (nekrópolis, city of the dead, cemetery) (used to describe part of the city of Alexandria, Egypt), from Ancient Greek νεκρός (nekrós, dead) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *neḱ- (to disappear; to perish)) + πόλις (pólis, city) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *tpelH- (city; fortification)). The English word is analysable as necro- +‎ -polis, and is cognate with French nécropole, German Nekropolis, Late Latin necropolis.[1]

The plural form necropoleis is derived from Ancient Greek νεκροπόλεις (nekropóleis).[1]



necropolis (plural necropolises or necropoleis or necropoles or necropoli)

  1. (chiefly historical, also figuratively) A cemetery; especially a large one in or near a city.
    Synonyms: (rare) necropole; see also Thesaurus:cemetery
    • 1793, C[onstantin] F[rançois] Volney, “Government of the Mamlouks”, in [anonymous], transl., Travels through Syria and Egypt, in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785. [] In Two Volumes, volume I, Dublin: [] Messrs. White, Byrne, W. Porter, Moore, Dornin, and W[illia]m Jones, →OCLC, section II (The Misery and Famine of Later Years), footnote, page 120:
      In Turkey, the tombs, according to the custom of the ancients, are always without the towns; and as each tomb has uſually a large ſtone, and ſome maſonry, they conſtitute what may almoſt be called a ſecond town, which may be named, as formerly at Alexandria, Necropolis, or the city of the dead.
    • 1836, [Nathaniel Parker Willis], “The Gipsy of Sardis. Part III.”, in Inklings of Adventure [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, New York, N.Y., London: Saunders and Otley, [], →OCLC, page 61:
      It was a lovely morning, as I said, and the Turks, who are early risers, were sitting on the graves of their kindred with their veiled wives and children, the marble turbans in that thickly-sown nekropolis less numerous than those of the living, who had come, not to mourn the dead who lay beneath, but to pass a day of idleness and pleasure on the spot endeared by their memories.
    • 1856, [Martin Farquhar Tupper], Paterfamilias’s Diary of Everybody’s Tour: Belgium and the Rhine, Munich, Switzerland, Milan, Geneva and Paris, London: Thomas Hatchard, [], →OCLC, page 288:
      [I]t [Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris] is an overcrowded, shabby, dusty, and ill-kept cemetery: Kensall Green, though incipient, is far more picturesque; and several American necropoleis beat it hollow.
    • [1875?], Mrs. [J. B.] Webb, chapter I, in Alypius of Tagaste: A Tale of the Early Church, London: Religious Tract Society;  [], →OCLC, page 9:
      The great main street, which ran from the eastern extremity of the city [of Alexandria, Egypt] to the Necropolis at the western end, a distance of thirty stadia, was thronged already with eager citizens, mostly arrayed in holiday costume, and with an expression of expectation on their animated countenances.
    • 1894, “READ, WILLIAM DAVID”, in David Baptie, editor, Musical Scotland Past and Present: Being a Dictionary of Scottish Musicians from about 1400 till the Present Time: [], Paisley, Renfrewshire: J. and R. Parlane;  [], →OCLC; reprinted as Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, New York, N.Y.: Georg Olms, 1972, →ISBN, page 154:
      READ, WILLIAM DAVID, [...] Sol-fa teacher, lecturer, and vocal composer. [...] He is interred in the Glasgow Necropolis, where a handsome monument has been erected to his memory by his friends and pupils.
    • 1956, C[harles] R[yle] Fay, “Glasgow”, in Adam Smith and the Scotland of His Day, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: University Press, →OCLC, page 58:
      Even at Adam Smith's death Glasgow was a city of less than 50,000, less, that is, than the Kirkcaldy of 1951. [...] The pattern of the old city was simple; let us follow it out. [...] Across the ravine is the necropolis, a mountain of gravestones, with a monument of [John] Knox in the centre.
    • 2014, Kevin Cook, “Garden Suburb”, in Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America, New York, N.Y., London: W. W. Norton & Company, →ISBN:
      Queens's Calvary Cemetery was even bigger and busier than Green-Wood. Soon after the Catholic necropolis opened its gates in 1848, one account tallied "fifty burials a day, half of them poor Irish under seven years of age."
  2. (archaeology) An ancient site used for burying the dead, particularly if consisting of elaborate grave monuments.
    • 1853, Abbé de St. Michon [i.e., Jean-Hippolyte Michon], chapter XIV, in [anonymous], transl., Narrative of a Religious Journey in the East in 1850 and 1851, London: Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, page 338:
      These labours upon Phœnician necropoli are of great importance. [...] M. [Louis Félicien] de Saulcy, one of the first travellers who has thrown light upon these necropoli, devoted himself to a very interesting examination of the tombs of the kings, of the prophets and judges, and upon the immense necropolis that surrounds Jerusalem, like a funeral enceinte.
    • 1854, A[dolphus] L[ouis] Kœppen, “The Harbors and Naval Establishments of the Ancient Athenians—The Modern Peiræus”, in Sketches of a Traveller from Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine, Chambersburg, Pa.: [] M. Kieffer & Co., →OCLC, page 19:
      The ancient Greeks generally buried their dead in their nekropoleis or their gardens; often on the road leading to their towns, or before the gates. This pious feeling of affection and reverence for the dead, is a touching feature in the character of the modern Greeks.
    • 1859, James Burton Robinson, “Lecture IV. Lecture on the Geography, Institutions, Trade, Arts, and Sciences of Ancient Egypt”, in Public Lectures Delivered before the Catholic University of Ireland, on Some Subjects of Ancient & Modern History, in the Years 1856, 1857, & 1858, London: Catholic Bookselling & Publishing Company, [], →OCLC, page 149:
      What shall I say of these immense Necropoleis, or Cities of the Dead, where the same care and labour were employed to embellish death, as other nations have bestowed on the adornment of life? Such an architecture could have sprung up only among a people filled with the idea of immortality, and in whose eyes earthly existence was but a fleeting passage to a future life.
    • 1860, Anne C[harlotte] Lynch Botta, “Egyptian Literature”, in Hand-book of Universal Literature, from the Best and Latest Authorities: [], New York, N.Y.: Derby & Jackson, [], →OCLC, page 60:
      The monuments of Egypt are religious, as the temples; sepulchral, as the necropoles; or triumphal, as the obelisks. [...] The most splendid necropoles of Egypt are those of Memphis and Thebes, and to the necropolis of the former the pyramids of El-Geezeh, near Cairo, are especially related.
    • 1865 February 1, “Pointed Architecture. []”, in The Art-Student; a Magazine of the Fine Arts: [], volume II, number 13, London: Hall, Smart, and Allen, [], →OCLC, page 262, column 2:
      Are we not overawed by those immense temples [in Egypt], those prodigious palaces, those grottos hewn in the living rock, those endless necropolises, and those indestructible colossi?
    • 1899 May, William Z[ebina] Ripley, “The Origin of European Culture”, in Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly, volume LV, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, →OCLC, pages 24–25:
      What would be the result if one attempted to determine the physical character of that people from a study of the remains in their necropoli?
    • 1988 November, Barbara Hambly, chapter 3, in Those Who Hunt the Night, New York, N.Y.: Open Road Media, published 2011, →ISBN:
      "How did you happen to discover it?" he inquired as they emerged from the end of the avenue under a massive gateway carved by the cemetery's developers to resemble some regal necropolis of the Pharaohs.
    • 1993, Graeme Barker, Annie Grant, Tom Rasmussen, “Approaches to the Etruscan Landscape: The Development of the Tuscania Survey”, in Peter Bogucki, editor, Case Studies in European Prehistory, Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, →ISBN, page 229:
      The great cemeteries or necropolises (literally, "cities of the dead") adjacent to the major Etruscan cities such as Cerveteri and Tarquinia are the most visible relics of this civilization.
    • 2003 March, M. Chiaradia, A. Gallay, W. Todt, “Different Contamination Styles of Prehistoric Human Teeth at a Swiss Necropolis (Sion, Valais) Inferred from Lead and Strontium Isotopes”, in Applied Geochemistry, volume 18, number 3, Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, →DOI, →ISSN, →OCLC, abstract, page 353:
      Separate fractions of dentine and enamel of 12 individuals from the necropolis of Sion (Valais, Switzerland) have been analyzed for Pb and Sr isotope compositions.
    • 2011, Alexandra[-Fani] Alexandridou, “Attic Early Black-figured Shapes”, in John M. Fossey, Angelo Geissen, editors, The Early Black-figured Pottery of Attika in Context (c. 630–570 BCE) (Monumenta Graeca et Romana; 17), Leiden: Brill, →ISBN, →ISSN, page 38, column 1:
      If the layer of the offerings is contemporary with the burials, then these are the earliest of the nekropolis, dating to the early third quarter of the seventh century.

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Compare necropolis, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2003; necropolis, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]




Borrowed from Koine Greek νεκρόπολις (nekrópolis, city of the dead, cemetery).


  • IPA(key): /neːˈkroː.poː.lɪs/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: ne‧cro‧po‧lis


necropolis f (plural necropolissen)

  1. necropolis (burial site, esp. an old one)
    Synonyms: dodenstad, knekelstad


  • Afrikaans: nekropolis