Printable Version
Pronunciation: fyu-nê-rêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Burial ceremony, usually comprising a sermon, sometimes a wake, and a procession to the grave. If it is the burial of a person of repute, there is often a period of lying in state. 2. Cessation of existence, catastrophe.

Notes: Today's word is a sad and somber one but one heard often recently in connection with Queen Elizabeth II's burial. Its adjective is funereal. The rarely used verb is funeralize.; otherwise, it is a lexical orphan.

In Play: When Queen Elizabeth passed away, her funeral services included a wake, lying in state at several places, a procession, and a service before burial—all over a period of 12 days. The entire ceremony was telecast around the world and watched by hundreds of millions. The second sense of today's word is simply its figurative use: "If you contradict the boss in tomorrow's office meeting, it'll be your funeral."

Word History: Today's most topical Good Word is a trimmed version of Late Latin funeralis "funereal", the adjective for funus, funeris "funeral", which Latin inherited from Proto-Indo-European dheu-/dhou- "to die". The [dh], like [bh] in initial position, often became [f], like Latin fornax "furnace" but English burn. Dutch dood, English dead, German tot, Norwegian død, Welsh dyn "person, mortal", Irish duine "person, mortal", Armenian diak "corpse", Lithuanian dvesti "(slang) 'to croak', die"—all descend from the same PIE word. (Now let's all thank newcomer Brita Edholm, another contributor who lives in Sweden, for today's quite topical Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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