Glossary of Monument and Memorial Terminology

Click on a letter to view the terms alphabetically

~ A ~

Abrasive:  Product that does the cutting in the sandblasting process (the sand). Abrasives come in a variety of forms, such as zirconia alundum “stoneblast” and calcined bauxite “sinterball.”

Apex:  The highest point of a monument where the four sides are tapered together. This word stems from the Latin for “top” or “summit.”

~ B ~

Band:  Any continuous strip or section on a monument which can be raised, flat, recessed or carved. A band is often used as a nameplate.

Base:  The lower part or parts of a multi-sectioned monument. There may be a first, second and third base.

Bevel marker:  A rectangular, angled or sloped-top marker.

~ C ~

CAD program:  This is generally defined as a “Computer Aided Design” program. They are available from a number of different software packages.

Cap:  The uppermost portion of a monument set on top of a tablet. There may be more than one piece to a cap.

Carving:  The process of shaping stone to the desired effect; includes sandblast, sculptural, shape, line and hand carving.

Cemetery:  Any area set aside for the burial of the dead; also stems from the Latin meaning of “sleeping place.”

Columbarium:  A vault with niches for urns containing ashes of the dead.

Cremation or cinerary urn:  A delicate urn used to hold the remains of a cremated body. Cinerary is from the Latin, meaning “dust” or “ashes.” The place where such urns are kept is called a cineraria.

~ D ~

Design:  A sketch or picture of an artist’s concept of a specially designed monument.

Die:  The primary body portion of any monument whether large or small. This term is being replaced by the words “tablet" or “screen.”

Dowel:  A pin designed to hold two joints of stone together. They are usually made of a strong noncorrosive metal, such as stainless steel or aluminum.

Drainage holes:  Openings drilled in any section of a monument or vase where it is necessary to carry off water.

Drop:  the amount of space between the highest and lowest point of the bevel or other parts of a monument.

~ E ~

Epitaph:  Any inscription or text on a monument in memory of the person or persons interred there. From the Latin meaning “funeral oration,” an epitaph should state something about the deceased.

Epoxy:  A thermosetting resin used as a strong adhesive to permanently attach two items together.

Etching:  Most commonly referred to when drawing portraits or scenes on memorials. Also known as diamond etching, laser etching or color etching when various colors are added to the scene or portrait.

~ F ~

Face:  The front of any monument or the forward portion of a slant-face marker.

Flat carving:  Any line carving on the surface of stone; also called “skin carving.”

Frost:  To remove the polish and leave a matte finish; also called “dust" or “skin."

Full-size detail:  A full size sketch of a monument or part of a monument, showing it exactly as it is to appear when finished.

~ G ~

Gold leaf:  A thin layer of gold that is applied to the memorial usually to enhance the lettering or to accent a carving.

Grass marker:  A small, flat piece of stone or metal set with or approximately with the level of the ground. Also called a lawn-level marker:  an outdated term is flush marker.

~ L ~

Ledger:  A memorial stone laid prone and covering all or most of the grave.

Lithichrome:  A liquid that can be sprayed onto panels or carvings or into letters to enhance or change the natural contrast or color. A variety of shades and colors are available.

~ M ~

Margin:  The extreme outer portion of any stone piece, which is given a contrasting finish for effect. Can be cut, steeled, hammered or polished.

Marker:  A headstone, usually small, used to identify individuals.

Mausoleum:  A building or structure for above-ground burial. It was also named for Mausolos, a king in ancient Asia Minor whose wife, Artemisis, had an elaborate, above-ground tomb erected to his memory in 350 B.C. at Halicarnassus.

Mausoleum:  Any above ground structure used for burials. Named for king Mausolos of Caria, His wife, Artemisis, built one of history’s first such tombs in about 350 B.C.

Memorial:  A structure designed to perpetuate the memory of a person or event; from the Latin word “to remember.” “Memorial” is commonly used to refer to a gravestone or monument.

Memorial:  Technically, a structure that reminds us of a specific event or person. Therefore, a monument serves as a memorial, but in daily use, monuments are called memorials.

Monument:  A structure erected as a memorial; from the Latin word “monere,” meaning “to remind.” Technically, the monument serves as the memorial.

~ N ~

Nosings:  Used in two ways: on monuments, it refers to any cut or additional stone projecting out beyond the main surface line. On slant markers, it can refer to either the top or front.

~ O ~

Obelisk:  From the Greek, meaning a pointed pillar. Any tall, four-sided spire that tapers to a pyramidal point.

Ornament:  The various symbols, sculpture, carving, decorations (floral and otherwise) used to convey messages and to enhance a design.

Outline, frosted:  Describes letters formed by lines sandblasted on a finished surface. The letters are frosted and outlined with a recessed line around the letter.

Oval top:  Any monument or marker with the top arched as a segment of a circle.

~ P ~

Panel:  A flat section of any monument that is set apart by raising, recessing or framing that is usually used to contain a name or inscription.

Pedestal:  From the Latin word meaning “foot;” the base of any urn, statue, etc.

Pillar:  A column to support a structure or to serve as a monument; see column.

Pitching (rock-pitching):  The cutting or chipping away of rough stone to a predetermined and marked line.

Plinth:  From the Greek meaning “stone block.” A stone slab or block, usually square or rectangular, upon which a pedestal, column, tablet, screen or statue is placed.

Plotter:  The machine used to receive the drawing from the computer to show the details of the memorial layout for the client or to cut the stencil that will be used for the memorial.

Polished:  Term used to describe the high gloss finish on a monument.

Proportion:  That vital allocation of space on a monument which determines its final appear¬ance; a harmonizing of spaces, lettering and ornaments.

~ R ~

Raised band:  A running, raised strip on a monument that often contains the name and dates.

Raised letters:  A particular style of letter that is accomplished by removing the area around the letter and making it raised from the surface.

Relief:  The projection of carved figures, floral decor, symbols, etc., from the flat surface of a monument.

Round raised letters:  A particular style of lettering that is similar to the raised letters except that all edges are carved to leave a semi-circle (half-round) on the letter. It could be accomplished within a panel or just raised from the balance of the memorial.

Rounds:  Any stone edge rounded like the outside portion of a circle.

Rubbing:  The process of tracing the lettering and design on the face of a monument by rubbing crayon or the like over paper.

~ S ~

Sandblast:  In general terms, a machine that mixes abrasive and air pressure in a controlled manner. It is the most common process used to carve and letter memorials.

Scanner:  A tool that can enter text, photos or images of objects in the computer system to create designs for memorials and other projects.

Scroll:  An ornamental design that resembles a partially rolled scroll; also a term used for the inscription plate on a bronze marker.

Sculpture:  From the Latin word meaning “to carve;” shaping stone to any predetermined form.

Serpentine:  Any surface or molding cut to resemble the S-like motion of a serpent.

Setting compound:  Used to form the seal between the tablet and base or other joints of the monument that must be sealed to keep water out. This product is not an adhesive.

Setting cushions:  Used as spacers between joints when setting; most commonly made of plastic.

Shell rock:  Rock pitching by removing large pieces of stone and leaving a shell-like appearance; requires the skill of a stonecutter familiar with the grain of the stone.

Skin carving:  Any shallow carving on the skin or surface of a monument that is executed by removing the polish; has no depth.

Slant:  Name for a marker with an extreme slant face and usually with a nosing at either the top or bottom, or both.

Steeled:  The surface of any stone that is ground with steel shot, resulting in a smooth, unpolished and matte finish; also referred to as “dusting.”

Stencil:  A sheet of rubber material affixed to the stone onto which the design has been transferred and then cut out to expose portions of the stone for sandblasting.

Stock:  Any piece of rough, quarried stone from which a marker or monument is made; also the inventory of monuments held by a memorialist.

Symbolism:  The symbolic meaning of the many figures and designs used on monuments.

~ T ~

Tablet or screen:  The die, tablet or screen is the main part of any monument. Any finished monument without lettering or ornament.

Taper:  The gradual decrease in thickness or width of a monument or marker. The taper is normally toward the top although reverse taper is not unusual.

Turned work:  Any circular-shaped memorial piece such as column, vase, ball, etc.

~ V ~

Vertical joint:  Any point at which two pieces of a monument meet vertically.

Vertical type:  General term for any taller, upright monument, as opposed to the lower, horizontal type.

V-sunk letters:  A particular style of letter that uses a carver’s chisel to create the letter by cutting into a “V” shape in the stone.

~ W ~

Wash or drop wash:  A beveled surface making up the exposed portion of the upper edge of a monument base. That is designed to assure water run-off.

Wings:  Stones extending outward from the main body of a monument.

Have granite markers that need cleaning? Please visit our article: Cleaning Granite Monuments

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