Definitions Of Common Cremation Terminology

If you are planning on discussing cremation as your end-of-life arrangement, it is best if you know a few relevant terms. Here is a look at some of the general terminology associated with cremation


A columbarium is a structure that is meant to be a public place for urns to be stored for the long term, and these places can be freestanding, part of another building, or incorporated into a cemetery. Columbariums usually have a large interior with many small spaces cut into the walls where urns can be placed. Visitors can visit the remains, which are marked with the names and birth and death date of the deceased. 


Cremains is a term used to reference the remains of an individual after they have been cremated. Typically referred to as ashes, cremains are a processed result of the body being cremated and then further ground into a heavy, dust-like material. 


The crematorium is where the cremation takes place. The crematorium can be located in a funeral home, but it may also be a sole operation where remains are processed and then returned to the funeral home.  The unit usually consists of a rolling conveyor system that rolls the remains into a high-temperature receptacle where the remains are reduced to ashes. 

Scattering Urn 

A scattering urn is a specially designed type of urn that is designed to make it easier to scatter the cremated remains. The urn may have an easy-to-open lid, or it may be crafted of biodegradable material that can be dropped into the sea or something similar. 


Entombment is a term that is used to describe placement in a mausoleum. Entombment can involve cremains and regular remains, but in either case, the remains are sealed into the mausoleum and not reopened. 

Urn Garden 

An urn garden is a bit like a regular cemetery, except the plots available are just big enough for the burial of cremains. Some urn gardens allow for headstone placement as well, so a loved one gets a long-lasting marker for their burial site. Urn gardens are a relatively new idea in the world of cremation, and some traditional cemeteries are implementing urn gardens for those clients who prefer cremation. 


A niche in terms of cremation is a small space where an urn can be placed, typically at a columbarium or inside a mausoleum. Niches are available at mausoleums and columbariums for cremains storage in an urn much like burial plots are available for caskets at a cemetery.