noun, plural sar·coph·a·gi [sahr-kof–uh-jahy] /sɑrˈkɒf əˌdʒaɪ/, sar·coph·a·gus·es.
- a stone coffin, especially one bearing sculpture, inscriptions, etc., often displayed as a monument.
- Greek Antiquity. a kind of stone thought to consume the flesh of corpses, used for coffins.
noun plural -gi (-ˌɡaɪ) or -guses
- a stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
n.plural of sarcophagus (q.v.). n.c.1600, “type of stone used for coffins,” from Latin sarcophagus, from Greek sarkophagos “limestone used for coffins,” literally “flesh-eating,” in reference to the supposed action of this type of limestone (quarried near Assos in Troas, hence the Latin lapis Assius) in quickly decomposing the body, from sarx (genitive sarkos) “flesh” (see sarcasm) + phagein “to eat” (see -phagous). Related: Sarcophagal. The “stone” sense was the earliest in English; meaning “stone coffin, often with inscriptions or decorative carvings” is recorded from 1705. The Latin word, shortened in Vulgar Latin to *sarcus, is the source of French cercueil, German Sarg “coffin,” Dutch zerk “tombstone.”