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I often watch horror films, read horror stories and play horror games like Diablo. I have noticed that sometimes very identical places are often called differently in English and it's very hard to tell on from the other. I'm come to notice that in horror-fiction the places where the dead are are most often called a "tomb" (a large stone structure or underground room where someone, especially an important person, is buried) and it's mostly underground but the entrance is on the ground. However, someone calls those "a crypt" (a room under the floor of a church where bodies are buried), "a vault" (a room under a church or a small building in a cemetery where dead bodies are buried) or a "burial chamber" (A chamber, often below ground level, used to bury the remains of the dead).

I also bumped upon "charnel" (a building or chamber in which bodies or bones are deposited — called also charnel house) and "sepulchre" (a stone structure where someone is buried) which I don't quite clearly understand In comparison with the other three words.

My question is: How common is each word over the others and should there be a strict difference between there meanings or do writers and producers have the right to veil there dictionary meanings for some reason?

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    Most dead bodies (over 75% in the UK) are cremated, with the ashes being either scattered or kept at home (on the mantlepiece, maybe). Nearly all of the rest are buried in graves in graveyards. I doubt the average Anglophone knows or cares about any possible dictionary distinction between tomb, crypt, vault, burial chamber, but I don't see how this can lead you to suspect a conspiracy among lexicographers to conceal the truth of this matter from ordinary mortals. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 29 '17 at 15:58
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    Did you know there is an internet site dedicated to horror movies alone? I usually do not watch them with a few exceptions. Like, 10 Cloverfield Lane. Have you seen it? :) Your question is quite complex. That said, I could give it a shot. See below. (Look, Mummy, no dictionary [joke: idiom: no hands] – Lambie May 29 '17 at 15:59
  • Lambie, what site is that? Link, please! – SovereignSun May 29 '17 at 16:10
  • Ok, I found it again just for you: bloody-disgusting.com Kind of gross. :):) They started as a blog, then a website and now they make 'em. – Lambie May 29 '17 at 16:34
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    1) Is your question how common are the different terms as used within films & stories, or how common in real life? And if in real life, are you referring to the actual usage of the various burial methods, references to the methods in print, or usage of the terms in normal speech and writing? 2) "do writers and producers have the right to veil there dictionary meanings": writers and producers have artistic license to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate language in any way they think will increase viewership or sales. There is also no requirement for accuracy or faithfulness to facts or reality. – fixer1234 May 30 '17 at 3:01
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Tomb is a generic term meaning an enclosed burial place, but not always underground, and it is used as a technical word by cemeteries. In a cemetery, you can have a plot, in which case, they bury you in the ground. Or you can have a structure above the ground, known as a mausoleum. In a cemetery, both are considered to be tombs. But we say: He's buried at x cemetery. We don't say usually: His tomb is at X cemetery, unless it refers to something like: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is an official burial site. Pharaohs in Egypt have underground tombs, emperors in China also have "tombs", kings in Europe have tombs.

"a crypt" (a room under the floor of a church where bodies are buried). Crypt is specifically associated with churches or cathedrals and are a large or largish space to accommodate more than one person. "A vault" is also underground but not necessarily in a church. A vault is a closed chamber. Banks have vaults also.

A "burial chamber" (A chamber, often below ground level, used to bury the remains of the dead). Burial chambers are typically found in archaeological contexts. It is often part of a larger structure that may or may not just be a tomb. Tombs in Ancient Egypt were found in burial chambers built into or under pyramids. Palaces in certain epochs have had burial chambers (See: Knossos in Crete). It is an architectural term as well. Not used in common parlance.

I also bumped upon "charnel" (a building or chamber in which bodies or bones are deposited — called also charnel house). This term is not usual and is also very specific. It is also similar to an ossuary, a term associated with Catholic Church for the place where bones were "laid to rest". But other cultures also have ossuaries.

Sepulchre is an old-fashioned word for a tomb or grave. Also, it is associated with Christian Orthodoxy and Catholicism and fancy burial sites: The most famous is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (an Orthodox Christian church) in associated with the death and burial of Christ, in old Jerusalem.

  • So, basically, people can misplace these words for certain reason, why call an underground floor with bodies a tomb, while it should be a vault or a crypt and why call an on-ground burial site a vault? – SovereignSun May 29 '17 at 16:43
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    Those are all hypothetical situations. It all depends on the actual context. Tomb is always generic. Something can generically be a tomb and be either a vault or IN a crypt. Crypts are for churches only. A vault is a box-like structure. In Mexico, they bury people in wall vaults. :) – Lambie May 29 '17 at 17:38

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