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I want to say "somebody was buried somewhere", to place (a corpse) in a grave.

But the word "bury" sometimes sounds rude or very technical to me. Am I right or is it very normal to use "bury". If it is not appropriate, can you tell me an alternative?

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I think few would find the word "buried" rude. It certainly isn't technical -- it's a very common word. If you are talking about disposing of dead bodies in general, "buried" is probably the most common word for this idea.

As others have noted, "laid to rest" is sometimes used as a euphemism. It is pretty much only used when speaking to the family or close friends of someone who has just died.

"Interred" is the technical term. You almost never hear someone say this other than funeral directors and cases where someone wants to sound very formal and respectful.

I don't have a survey on this, but I think most people would say, "My mother is buried in Pennsylvania" and the like without a second though.

  • How does this constitute an answer? All of this information is commentary on the question or other answers. – talrnu Aug 6 '15 at 16:56
  • You should use "laid to rest" if you want to be sensitive. – LawrenceC Aug 6 '15 at 17:31
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    @talmu: I don't see what answer could possibly respond more directly and explicitly to OP's question "Am I right [in thinking bury rude or technical] or is it very normal to use bury?" – StoneyB Aug 6 '15 at 18:44
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To bury is not rude or technical. However, the use of euphemism is widespread when the subject is related to death, so to someone who is not used to confronting the reality head-on, simple matter-of-factness may seem harsh. The use of euphemism can reflect solicitude. But it can also become hollow and be just the opposite of solicitousness, for example when the death industry comes up with new and improved death-jargon.

http://www.dailyundertaker.com/2009/01/cremains-of-day-look-at-words-in.html

A minor change can remove the harshness for many people. Instead of asking "When will he be buried?" one can ask "When is the burial?"

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But the word "bury" sometimes sounds rude or very technical to me.

I agree, it could sound harsh to a grieving person or family of the deceased.

Try laid to rest.

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A person who is buried with funereal rites is "interred". That is probably the best verb for it, but it's also rather formal and some people might see it as archaic. "Laid to rest" is more common in informal conversation. The choice can be a little tricky, because some people will be uncomfortable using a more "technical" term like "buried" or "interred", but others (like me) are more uncomfortable with the more "sentimental" "laid to rest".

If you are talking to the family and friends of the deceased, I would use "laid to rest". If you're talking about the general practice of burial of remains, or to people completely unassociated with the deceased, I would use "interred".

  • Inter can also refer to the act of storing a cremated person's ashes in places that aren't underground. This doesn't make it an incorrect answer (it was my first thought, actually), it's just an important note to consider. – talrnu Aug 6 '15 at 16:54
  • This may be a cultural difference, but I would certainly indicate location by saying "Karl Marx is buried in Highgate cemetery". I would not say "interred", maybe unless talking about the ceremony itself, as opposed to merely indicating the location as in the questioner's example. I'm with you in finding "laid to rest" too much of a euphemism, except perhaps when someone is talking about a loved one. – Steve Jessop Aug 6 '15 at 18:34
  • @talmu Interred originally meant "to place in dirt". It came long ago to refer specifically to the burial of human remains with respect and mostly lost its original meaning outside of that context. If it's being used for cremated ashes, that's a further evolution of the word away from its origins. – TBridges42 Aug 6 '15 at 23:25
  • @Steve Jessop I have no problems with "Karl Marx is interred in Highgate cemetery", but I would be more likely to say "buried". – TBridges42 Aug 6 '15 at 23:25
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Inhume is another rarely-used option, probably not appropriate for English language learners.

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