Additional Resources

Words used in reference to burial grounds and tombs

Cemetery – Any area set aside for the burial of the dead; also stems from the Latin meaning of “sleeping place.”

Crypt – An enclosure for a casket in a mausoleum or in an area entirely or partly underground; from the Latin word meaning “hidden.” In Europe the word refers primarily to burial places in or under churches.

Mausoleum – A building or structure for above-ground burial. It was also named for Mausolos, a king in ancient Asia Minor whose wife, Artemisis, had an elaborate, above-ground tomb erected to his memory in 350 B.C. at Halicarnassus.

Memorial – A structure designed to perpetuate the memory of a person or event; from the Latin word “to remember.” “Memorial” is commonly used to refer to a gravestone or monument.

Monument – A structure erected as a memorial; from the Latin word “monere,” meaning “to remind.” Technically, the monument serves as the memorial.

Tomb – Another term for a burial place; from the Greek word meaning “to remember.”

Vault – A burial chamber usually found underground.

Words used in the Monument trade

Abrasive – Product that does the cutting in the sandblasting process (the sand). Abrasives come in a variety of forms, such as zirconia alundum “stoneblast” and calcined bauxite “sinterball.”

Apex – The highest point of a monument where the four sides are tapered together. This word stems from the Latin for “top” or “summit.”

Band – Any continuous strip or section on a monument which can be raised, flat, recessed or carved. A band is often used as a nameplate.

Base – The lower part or parts of a multi-sectioned monument. There may be a first, second and third base.

Bas-relief – Any sculpturing that projects minimally from the background. The word “bas” is from the Latin, meaning “base” or “low.”

Bed – The flat, top portion of any monument base which is cut to fit the bottom (joint) of the tablet, or main part of the monument.

Belts/slings – Nylon straps used for the lifting of memorials.

Bevel marker – A rectangular, angled or sloped-top marker.

Blued – A term that describes the deepened color given to a monument by an abrasive used in sandblasting.

Bottom jointed – The bottom of the tablet, or main part of the monument, leveled and squared for final mounting on the base.

Bruise – Means the same in stone as a bruise on the body – any marring of the surface of a stone by a blow; also called a stun.

Buffing – Applying the final touch to the stone’s polished surface.

CAD program – This is generally defined as a “Computer Aided Design” program. They are available from a number of different software packages.

Canopy – Literally means “to overhang” and refers to any roof-like outcropping. A canopy is usually supported by columns.

Cap – The uppermost portion of a monument set on top of a tablet. There may be more than one piece to a cap.

Capital – From the Latin, meaning “head;” the top part of any pilaster or column.

Carving – The process of shaping stone to the desired effect; includes sandblast, sculptural, shape, line and hand carving.

Chamfer – A beveled or tapered edge made by cutting away of square edge on a monument.

Check – A cut or recess in the stone, normally on the top or ends; a rabbet-shaped cutting.

Chipped – Means exactly what it says – small chips mar the edge of a stone.

Columbarium – A vault with niches for urns containing ashes of the dead.

Columnar – An orderly arrangement of single or double columns on a monument.

Column – Any pillar consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft and a capital or crown. There are five types of columns – sometimes referred to as the five orders of architecture. The five orders differ in the proportions of their columns and in richness of their ornamentation. These orders have long been called the Tuscan Order, Doric Order, Ionic Order, Corinthian Order and the Composite Order. The Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders are the most important since they are in more general use.

Doric – The most simple and the oldest of all column designs. Named for the Dorians, who created it on the Aegean Islands, the Doric order originally had heavy, fluted columns with no base and plain, saucer-like capitals. The cornice was bold and simple. The Romans eventually modified this to as we know it today.

Ionic – Another classical Greek column that was modified by the Romans, the Ionic order originally was topped by two opposing volutes or scroll-like ornaments on the capital or crown. Ionic flutes differ from Doric flutes in that they are beveled.

Corinthian – The most ornate of the three Greco-Roman orders. As originally designed by the Greeks, it had a slender, fluted column with a highly ornate bell-shaped capital decorated with acanthus leaves. The Romans altered this design slightly as well.

Composite – The composite capital is a mixture of elements of the Ionic and Corinthian capitals. Its forms and general proportions are like those of the Corinthian Order. There are two banks of leaves placed as in the Corinthian, but the upper part uses Ionic Capital volutes placed at an angle.

Tuscan – The most simple of the five orders. Comparatively few lines are required to express its component parts.

The five orders have one proportion in common, viz. Viz is the relation of the height of the column to the height of the entablature. The entablature in all five orders is one quarter the column height. The height of the column in any order is, therefore, the height of four entablatures, and the height of the entablature, although a variable quantity will always bear a certain relation to the general height of the order.

Concave – A curve matching the inner surface of a sphere.

Convex – The opposite of concave; any cut matching the outer surface of a sphere.

Coping – Any low stone arrangement outlining the limits of a burial lot; also called curbing.

Cremation or cinerary urn – A delicate urn used to hold the remains of a cremated body. Cinerary is from the Latin, meaning “dust” or “ashes.” The place where such urns are kept is called a cineraria.

Cubical content – Total number of cubic feet and inches in a piece of stone, cut or uncut.

Curbing – The placing of a stone curb or low enclosure around a cemetery burial lot.

Design – A sketch or picture of an artist’s concept of a specially designed monument.

Die – The primary body portion of any monument whether large or small. This term is being replaced by the words “tablet” or “screen.”

Digitizer – Part of the computer program that can read the details of the drawing to put the design into a readable form prior to sending to the plotter or the printer for review.

Dowel – A pin designed to hold two joints of stone together. They are usually made of a strong noncorrosive metal, such as stainless steel or aluminum.

Drainage holes – Openings drilled in any section of a monument or vase where it is necessary to carry off water.

Drop – the amount of space between the highest and lowest point of the bevel or other parts of a monument.

End members – Horizontal series of moldings on the ends of a monument.

Entablature – The cornice and roof section which rests on the caps of all columns; from the Latin word meaning “table.”

Epitaph – Any inscription or text on a monument in memory of the person or persons interred there. From the Latin meaning “funeral oration,” an epitaph should state something about the deceased.

Epoxy – A thermosetting resin used as a strong adhesive to permanently attach two items together.

Etching – Most commonly referred to when drawing portraits or scenes on memorials. Also known as diamond etching, laser etching or color etching when various colors are added to the scene or portrait.

Face – The front of any monument or the forward portion of a slant-face marker.

Flat carving – Any line carving on the surface of stone; also called “skin carving.”

Frost – To remove the polish and leave a matte finish; also called “dust” or “skin.”

Full-size detail – A full size sketch of a monument or part of a monument, showing it exactly as it is to appear when finished.

Gable top – The roof-like top of any monument that is sometimes referred to as a “two-way top” or “rooftop.”

Gothic top – The top of a monument that rounds gracefully to a peak on the exact centerline. The Goths are said to have originated the pointed arch.

Gold leaf – A thin layer of gold that is applied to the memorial usually to enhance the lettering or to accent a carving.

Grass marker – A small, flat piece of stone or metal set with or approximately with the level of the ground. Also called a lawn-level marker – an outdated term is flush marker.

Grout – The discarded materials created while quarrying rock.

Hammer – Refers to the hand or pneumatic tool with a multi-pointed head. These chisels are used to axe, dress or hammer the surface of a stone.

Head grain – Stone, like wood, is grained. The head grain in stone is most desired for the finished face, like the end grain in wood.

High relief – The opposite of Bas-relief or low relief. In high relief, the projecting figures or carvings extend outward at least half as much as their circumference.

Joint – Any surface where one piece of stone has been dressed and cut to fit another. Normally used to designate the bottom of the main part of the monument.

Keystone – The important, wedge-shaped stone set at the apex of an arch to hold all other stones in place.

Ledger – A memorial stone laid prone and covering all or most of the grave.

Lift – To understand this term, you must also understand “rift” and “head grain.” The lift is the grain in stone that runs at right angles to the rift, which is the direction in which the stone splits easiest.

Lithichrome – A liquid that can be sprayed onto panels or carvings or into letters to enhance or change the natural contrast or color. A variety of shades and colors are available.

Margin – The extreme outer portion of any stone piece, which is given a contrasting finish for effect. Can be sawn, steeled, hammered or polished.

Marker – A headstone, usually small, used to identify individuals.

Mausoleum – Any above ground structure used for burials. Named for king Mausolos of Caria, His wife, Artemisis, built one of history’s first such tombs in about 350 B.C.

Memorial – Technically, a structure that reminds us of a specific event or person. Therefore, a monument serves as a memorial, but in daily use, monuments are called memorials.

Nosings – Used in two ways: on monuments, it refers to any cut or additional stone projecting out beyond the main surface line. On slant markers, it can refer to either the top or front.

Obelisk – From the Greek, meaning a pointed pillar. Any tall, four-sided spire that tapers to a pyramidal point.

Ogee – A double curve in the shape of an elongated “S.”

Ornament – The various symbols, sculpture, carving, decorations (floral and otherwise) used to convey messages and to enhance a design.

Outline, frosted – Describes letters formed by lines sandblasted on a finished surface. The letters are frosted and outlined with a recessed line around the letter.

Oval top – Any monument or marker with the top arched as a segment of a circle.

Panel – A flat section of any monument that is set apart by raising, recessing or framing that is usually used to contain a name or inscription.

Pattern – Primarily used to cut a piece of stone to the desired shape. Also used to describe the specific form of any rough block of stone.

Pedestal – From the Latin word meaning “foot;” the base of any urn, statue, etc.

Pillar – A column to support a structure or to serve as a monument; see column.

Pitching (rock-pitching) – The cutting or chipping away of rough stone to a predetermined and marked line.

Plotter – The machine used to receive the drawing from the computer to show the details of the memorial layout for the client or to cut the stencil that will be used for the memorial.

Plinth – From the Greek meaning “stone block.” A stone slab or block, usually square or rectangular, upon which a pedestal, column, tablet, screen or statue is placed.

Polished – Term used to describe the high gloss finish on a monument.

Proportion – That vital allocation of space on a monument which determines its final appear­ance; a harmonizing of spaces, lettering and ornaments.

Raised band – A running, raised strip on a monument that often contains the name and dates.

Raised letters – A particular style of letter that is accomplished by removing the area around the letter and making it raised from the surface.

Relief – The projection of carved figures, floral decor, symbols, etc., from the flat surface of a monument.

Rough stock – Unfinished rock in the form which is delivered from the quarry.

Round raised letters – A particular style of lettering that is similar to the raised letters except that all edges are carved to leave a semi-circle (half-round) on the letter. It could be accomplished within a panel or just raised from the balance of the memorial.

Rounds – Any stone edge rounded like the outside portion of a circle.

Rubbing – The process of tracing the lettering and design on the face of a monument by rubbing crayon or the like over paper.

Sandblast – In general terms, a machine that mixes abrasive and air pressure in a controlled manner. It is the most common process used to carve and letter memorials.

Sarcophagus – Term for any hewn, massive coffin of stone or any large memorial with an area for a casket.

Scanner – A tool that can enter text, photos or images of objects in the computer system to create designs for memorials and other projects.

Screen carving – A very old practice of using a screen to sandblast deep, symmetrical pits into a surface; also called lace carving.

Screen panel carving – Forming a defined panel by setting it apart with a screened background.

Scroll – An ornamental design that resembles a partially rolled scroll; also a term used for the inscription plate on a bronze marker.

Sculpture – From the Latin word meaning “to carve;” shaping stone to any predetermined form.

Seam – Any slight, almost unseen crack in a stone’s surface.

Serpentine – Any surface or molding cut to resemble the S-like motion of a serpent.

Setting compound – Used to form the seal between the tablet and base or other joints of the monument that must be sealed to keep water out. This product is not an adhesive.

Setting cushions – Used as spacers between joints when setting; most commonly made of plastic.

Shell rock – Rock pitching by removing large pieces of stone and leaving a shell-like appearance; requires the skill of a stonecutter familiar with the grain of the stone.

Shoulder – Any projection that rises above the surface; corresponds to “check” or “rabbet.”

Skin carving – Any shallow carving on the skin or surface of a monument that is executed by removing the polish; has no depth.

Slant – Name for a marker with an extreme slant face and usually with a nosing at either the top or bottom, or both.

Spawl – Any large piece of chipped rock that is normally thrown away.

Square – A tool used to assure that corners of stone are cut square.

Steeled – The surface of any stone that is ground with steel shot, resulting in a smooth, unpolished and matte finish; also referred to as “dusting.”

Stencil – A sheet of rubber material affixed to the stone onto which the design has been trans­ferred and then cut out to expose portions of the stone for sandblasting.

Stock – Any piece of rough, quarried stone from which a marker or monument is made; also the inventory of monuments held by a memorialist.

Straight edge – A long, narrow tool made of either wood or metal, with a straight edge for testing or drawing straight lines.

Stun – Any imperfection on the stone surface caused by a blow, which creates a below-the-surface fracture.

Symbolism – The symbolic meaning of the many figures and designs used on monuments.

Tablet or screen – The die, tablet or screen is the main part of any monument. Any finished monument without lettering or ornament.

Taper – The gradual decrease in thickness or width of a monument or marker. The taper is normally toward the top although reverse taper is not unusual.

Turned work – Any circular-shaped memorial piece such as column, vase, ball, etc.

V-sunk letters – A particular style of letter that uses a carver’s chisel to create the letter by cutting into a “V” shape in the stone.

Vertical joint – Any point at which two pieces of a monument meet vertically.

Vertical type – General term for any taller, upright monument, as opposed to the lower, horizontal type.

Wash or drop wash – A beveled surface making up the exposed portion of the upper edge of a monument base. That is designed to assure water run-off.

Wings – Stones extending outward from the main body of a monument.