Is it a Cemetery or a Graveyard?

Sometimes it’s called a cemetery and sometimes a graveyard.  Is there a difference, and if so what is the difference?  When looking online it almost seems that a lot of people have a distorted view of their definitions. defines both as “a place where dead people are buried,” so that generic description might be why there is so much confusion.

Technically a graveyard is beside or very near a church whereas a cemetery is independent of a church.  Many people refer to an old burying location, sometimes abandoned, as a graveyard.  Just the term sounds creepy and lonely while a cemetery invokes peaceful and caring thoughts.  Generally historical or genealogy societies use the term cemetery for all final resting places unless the location is commonly know as a graveyard.

For my website, I have used both terms as I find the names of cemeteries and graveyards.  I know that “technically” the graves right beside St. John’s Church is a graveyard and the Miller Family Farm graves are in a cemetery, but I’m not going to argue the small stuff with anybody.  I did find an article online that says church graveyards are rarely taken care of and the burials are all crammed together and cemeteries are always well taken care of and very spacious, which I found funny.  I have visited some beautiful graveyards beside churches and I’ve visited some pitifully neglected cemeteries, so that theory is not very reliable!

Either way, it doesn’t really matter what name is used.  To me, what is important is preserving our heritage and history of these locations so that future generations will know about them.

This entry was posted in June 2014 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Is it a Cemetery or a Graveyard?

  1. Pingback: Jay

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