GRAVEYARD

      You would think this word would date back much earlier than 1761, particularly when you consider that the word grave goes back to Old English, which flourished from the sixth to the eleventh centuries after Christ. Graveclothes (the clothes in which the corpse is buried) dates backto 1535, and gravedigger to 1593, but the popularity of cemetery (from the 1400s) and burial place (from 1633) made it possible for the Englishspeaking people to get by for more than a thousand years without a single graveyard in their vocabulary — at least as far as we know.

The fancy ancient word for a cemetery or graveyard is necropolis, literally “a city of the dead.” The ancient Egyptians had special communities set aside for the preparation of corpses for burial, especially those of the royal family, who had the privilege of being mummified. The job of working in one of these places was passed down from father to son, and those who lived there were known by an Egyptian word meaning “those who carry the odour of death with them.”

In the late nineteenth century, grave robbing became a lucrative business as medical schools paid good money for corpses suitable for research. Legislation to stamp out this ghoulish practice followed on the heels of the discovery, in 1878, that the cadaver lying in the dissecting room of the Ohio Medical College was none other than John Scott Harrison, the only American to be the son of one president (William Henry Harrison) and the father of another (Benjamin Harrison).
                      Source: 500 Years of new words By Bill Sherk

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