any of a series of vaults or galleries in an underground burial place: usually used in pl.
Origin of catacombMiddle English catacumb; ultimately Late Latin catacumba, plural catacumbae, region between 2d and 3d milestones of the Appian Way, Catacombs; probably by dissimilation from Classical Latin cata tumbas, at the graves from cata ( from Classical Greek kata, down), by + tumbas, accusative plural of tumba, tomb
- often catacombs An underground cemetery consisting of chambers or tunnels with recesses for graves.
- An underground, often labyrinthine passageway.
Origin of catacombFrom French catacombes ( plural ) from Middle French Cathacombes the name of a complex of Christian catacombs near the Appian Way on the outskirts of ancient Rome in which Saint Sebastian was said to be buried ultimately from Late Latin Catacumbas possibly from the name of the location before it was used as a burial site ( perhaps originally the Greek name of a tavern on the Appian Way, Kata Kumbās literally “Under the Drinking Cups” ) (Greek kata under ; see cata- . ) (Greek kumbē shallow bowl, drinking cup, saucer ; see cymbidium. ) or possibly from alteration ( influenced by Latin -cumbere to lie ) ( as in recumbere to lie down ) of Catatumbas Greek kata perhaps Late Latin tumbās accusative plural of tumba tomb ; see tomb.
Often used in the plural.