Difference Between Cemetery and Graveyard

Main Difference – Cemetery vs Graveyard 

The two words, cemetery and graveyard both refer to a place where the dead is buried. Although these two words are often used interchangeably by many people, there is a subtle difference between cemetery and graveyard. The main difference between cemetery and graveyard is that graveyard is situated close to a church whereas a cemetery is not situated near a church.

What is a Cemetery

By the late 18th century, the population of Europe has increased intently; the graveyards were no longer sufficient for burial purposes. It was only then that the concept of creating burial grounds away from the church began to be introduced. This kind of burial ground, which is not close to a church, is called a cemetery. So, a cemetery is a large burial ground which is not situated in a churchyard.

The term cemetery comes from Old French cimetiere which is originated from Greek koimeterion meaning sleeping place or dormitory.

Difference Between Cemetery and Graveyard

What is a Graveyard

Graveyard is a burial place situated beside a church. In Christian traditions, graveyard was often associated with the church. This is because burying of the dead was only allowed in lands near a church in the past. So a burial ground close to a church is called a graveyard. Graveyard literally refers to a yard full of graves. In the past, a graveyard was considered to be a part of the church. It was the church who had control over the process of burying the dead.Difference Between Cemetery and Graveyard

Difference Between Cemetery and Graveyard 

  • Cemetery and graveyard both refer to burial sites.
  • Graveyard is situated close to a church whereas cemetery is not situated close to a church.
  • Graveyard can be associated with religion due to its history.
  • Cemetery does not have religious connotations.

Image Courtesy:

“Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island” by Matt H. Wade. Own work, via  

“All Saints Church and its graveyard in Highweek, Devon, England” by Smalljim – Own work via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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