AskDefine | Define crypt

Dictionary Definition

crypt n : a cellar or vault or underground burial chamber (especially beneath a church)

User Contributed Dictionary



From crypta, from κρυπτός.


  • /krɪpt/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪpt


  1. An underground vault, especially one beneath a church that is used as a burial place.
  2. A small pit or cavity in the body


undergound vault

Extensive Definition

In medieval terms, a crypt (from the Latin crypta and the Greek kryptē) is a stone chamber or vault, usually beneath the floor of a church or castle, usually used as a chapel or burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics of important persons such as saints or high ranking church officials.


Churches were occasionally raised above ground level to accommodate a crypt at the ground level, such as St. Michael's Church in Hildesheim, Germany. Crypts are typically found below the apse such as at Saint-Germain en Auxerre, but occasionally found beneath church wings and naves. First known in the early Christian period, in particular North Africa at Orleansville and Djemila in Algeria, and Byzantium at Saint John Studio in Constantinople, crypts were first used and spread widely in western Europe under Charlemagne, they are most common in the early medieval West, for example in Burgundy at Dijon and Tournus. After the 10th century the need for crypts faded, when Church officials permitted relics to be held in the main level of the church. By the Gothic period crypts were rarely built.

Burial vaults

Main article: Burial vault (tomb).
In more modern terms, a crypt is most often a stone chambered burial vault used to store the deceased. Crypts are usually found in cemeteries and under public religious buildings, such as churches or cathedrals, but are also occasionally found beneath mausolea or chapels on personal estates. Wealthy or prestigious families will often have a 'family crypt' or 'vault' in which all members of the family are stored. Many royal families, for example, have vast crypts containing the bodies of dozens of former royals. In some localities an above ground crypt is more commonly called a mausoleum, which also refers to any elaborate building intended as a burial place, for one or any number of people.
There was also a trend in the 1800s of building crypts into medium to large size family estates, usually subtly placed on the edge of the grounds or more commonly incorporated into the cellar. After a change of owner these are often blocked up and the house deeds will not allow this area to be re-developed.


crypt in Afrikaans: Kripte
crypt in Bulgarian: Крипта
crypt in Catalan: Cripta
crypt in Czech: Krypta
crypt in Danish: Krypt
crypt in German: Krypta
crypt in Estonian: Krüpt
crypt in Spanish: Cripta
crypt in Esperanto: Kripto (arkitekturo)
crypt in French: Crypte
crypt in Italian: Cripta
crypt in Hebrew: קריפטה
crypt in Latvian: Kripta
crypt in Luxembourgish: Krypta
crypt in Lithuanian: Kripta
crypt in Dutch: Crypte
crypt in Japanese: 地下聖堂
crypt in Norwegian: Krypt
crypt in Polish: Krypta
crypt in Portuguese: Cripta
crypt in Russian: Крипта
crypt in Slovak: Krypta
crypt in Finnish: Krypta
crypt in Swedish: Krypta
crypt in Chinese: 地下墓室

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Easter sepulcher, alveolation, alveolus, ambry, antrum, apse, armpit, baptistery, barrow, basement, basin, beehive tomb, blindstory, bone house, booth, bowl, box, box grave, burial, burial chamber, burial mound, catacomb, catacombs, cave, cavern, cavity, cell, cellar, cellule, cenotaph, chamber, chancel, charnel house, choir, cist, cist grave, cloisters, compartment, concave, concavity, confessional, confessionary, crater, crib, cromlech, cup, deep six, depression, diaconicon, diaconicum, dip, dokhma, dolmen, enclosed space, fold, follicle, funnel chest, grave, grotto, hold, hole, hollow, hollow shell, house of death, lacuna, last home, long home, low green tent, low house, manger, mastaba, mausoleum, monstrance, mummy chamber, narrow house, nave, ossuarium, ossuary, passage grave, pew, pit, pocket, porch, presbytery, punch bowl, pyramid, reliquary, resting place, rood loft, rood stair, rood tower, room, sacrarium, sacristy, scoop, sepulcher, shaft grave, shell, shrine, sink, sinus, socket, stall, stupa, tomb, tope, tower of silence, transept, triforium, trough, tumulus, vault, vestry, vug
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