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From Middle English sepulcre and Old French sepulcre, from Latin sepulcrum (grave, burial place).



sepulchre (plural sepulchres)

  1. A burial chamber.
    Synonym: tomb
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act III, scene iii:
      By Mahomet, my Kinſmans ſepulcher,
      And by the holy Alcaron I ſweare, []
    • c. 1601–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or What You Will”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iv], page 269:
      He is knight dubb'd with vnhatche'd Rapier, and on carpet conſideration, but he is a diuell in priuate brall, soules and bodies hath he diuorc'd three, and his incenſement at this moment is ſo implacable, that ſatisfaction can be none, but by pangs of death and ſepulcher: Hob, nob, is his word: giu't or take't.
    • 1611, King James Version, Matthew 23:27:
      Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
    • 1810, J[ohn] Stagg, “Arthur’s Cave. A Legendary Tale.”, in The Minstrel of the North: Or, Cumbrian Legends. [], London: Printed by Hamblin and Seyfang, [], for the author, and sold by J. Blacklock, [], →OCLC, page 105:
      [I]n the reign of Henry the Second, a body happening, by chance, to be dug up near Glastonbury Abbey, without any symptoms of putrefaction or decay, the Welch, the descendants of the Ancient Britons, tenacious of the dignity and reputation of that illustrious hero [King Arthur], vainly supposed it could be no other than the body of their justly-boasted Pen-Dragon; and that he had been immured in that sepulchre by the spells of some powerful and implacable inchanter.
    • 1826, [Mary Shelley], chapter VIII, in The Last Man. [], volume III, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC:
      Nor was it the human form alone which we had placed in this eternal sepulchre, whose obseques we now celebrated.
    • 1849, Edgar Allan Poe, "Annabel Lee":
      And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
      Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
      In her sepulchre there by the sea—
      In her tomb by the sounding sea.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 69, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, →OCLC:
      The vast tackles have now done their duty. The peeled white body of the beheaded whale flashes like a marble sepulchre; though changed in hue, it has not perceptibly lost anything in bulk.
    • 1891, Thomas Taylor, The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, Section 1:
      Plato, too, it is well known, considered the body as the sepulchre of the soul, and in the Cratylus concurs with the doctrine of Orpheus, that the soul is punished through its union with body.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Part II, Chapter 14:
      The aged sisters draw us into life: we wail, batten, sport, clip, clasp, sunder, dwindle, die: over us dead they bend. First, saved from waters of old Nile, among bulrushes, a bed of fasciated wattles: at last the cavity of a mountain, an occulted sepulchre amid the conclamation of the hillcat and the ossifrage.
  2. (Christianity, historical) A recess in some early churches in which the reserved sacrament, etc. was kept from Good Friday till Easter.

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sepulchre (third-person singular simple present sepulchres, present participle sepulchring, simple past and past participle sepulchred)

  1. (transitive) To place in a sepulchre.
    Hypernym: inter
    • 1630, John Milton, On Shakespeare:
      And so sepulchred in such pomp dost lie
      That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara. [], volume II, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, pages 298–299:
      Not one of the ordinary motives—the vanity or the selfishness which people call by the name of love—actuated her through this long trial; she had everything to fear, and nothing to expect. What creation of the poet ever exceeded this terrible reality of love sepulchred in this living tomb?

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