Cemetery Vs. Graveyard. Is There a Difference?

Hello all you lovely people! Today I’m switching gears from my writing/art chatting to discuss one of my favourite topics: cemeteries. As a self-proclaimed Cemetery Enthusiast, I get asked a lot of questions on the topic. But there’s one question I get asked more than any other:

Are cemeteries and graveyards the same thing?

Truth be told I didn’t have an answer. So finally I decided to do the research and share the results with all you inquiring minds.

Is There a Difference?

Technically? If you want to be nit-picky? Yes, there is. Who knew!

According to various historical sources the word Cemetery was first used back in Roman times. It refers to a large burial ground not associated with any church.

The word Graveyard came into fashion in the 1700s and refers to graves located on the church’s property–the churchyard. Graveyards are typically smaller than cemeteries.

Nowadays the words are used interchangeably. Most people (at least here in North America) are more likely to say cemetery rather than graveyard. Unless you’re trying to be spooky and it’s Halloween and then graveyard it is!

So there you have it, folks. There is a difference, but only the truly pickiest of nit-pickers are likely to correct you on your misuse. On a personal note, I seem to favour cemetery. Probably because most of the cemeteries around me are actually cemeteries and not graveyards. Not that I knew I was being grammatically correct. 😉

Which word do you find yourself using? Are you a cemetery or graveyard person? Or did you know there was a difference and use them both? Leave a comment below! And if you have any other questions please let me know. ❤

One thought on “Cemetery Vs. Graveyard. Is There a Difference?

  1. Graveyard. I don’t know why, but to me it’s where the graves are, so it’s a graveyard. Maybe I thought Cemetary was an American term for it – being that for me what comes to mind is Stephen King’s Pet Cemetary, and one of my favourite magazines is Cemetery Dance (lots of short, horror stories – US based).

    Doesn’t surprise me there is a difference in the meaning, but interesting all the same.

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