Definition 1: An above-ground tomb usually made of stone.[@more@]
Usage 1: The plural is "sarcophagi," pronounced [sahr-'kah-fê-gI] or [sahr-'kah-fê-jI]. The verb, sarcophagize, means "to bury in a sarcophagus." The adjective, sarcophagous, also serves the noun, sarcophagy, referring to the eating of flesh (meat). A sarcophage ['sahr-kê-feyj] is a flesh-eater. In 1901 H. G. Wells, justly or not, grouped together "[t]he movements against vivisection, opium, alcohol, tobacco, sarcophagy, and the male sex."
Suggested usage: Since "sarcophagus" is an enclosure, it may be applied to any enclosed space that gives you the sense of a tomb: "I felt sorry for him in that large, windowless sarcophagous office of his." "His head is a sarcophagus that has not entertained a live idea in decades." But the other suite of words could be more fun: "I don't mind fish and fowl but I'm not an avid sarcophage by any means." That should bring you back into the conversation at the dinner table (or get you sent away).
Etymology: Greek sarkophagos "coffin" from (lithos) sarkophagos "flesh-eating (stone)" = "limestone" because the ancient Greeks believed limestone consumed flesh. Later the term came to mean simply "coffin." Based on sarx, sarkos "flesh" + -phagein "to eat." Sarx is also the origin of "sarcoma." (Our gratitude goes to Sverrir Konradsson of Reykjavik, Iceland for today's gloomy but historically fascinating word.)
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