Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tombstone Symbols - Continued

I posted a long list of some meanings of tombstone symbols in an earlier posting. The list seems to be far from complete. Additional lists have been sent that should be added to the original list so we can attempt to interpret the symbols on our ancestors headstones.

How many of these definitions are definitive? Who knows. As mentioned in my earlier posting, many by have been chosen because the family or engraver liked them tombstoneor they had meaning that was unique to their lives and experience.

That stated, most of the definitions in the two lists do represent the real context of the symbol in the hearts and minds of those choosing them for tombstones.

Here are the additional interpretations of tombstone symbols.

Trade Symbols

Barber - Bowl (for bleeding) & Razor
Butcher - an axe, steel knife and cleaver
Farmer - Coulter (type of hoe), flail (threshing implement), swingletree (rod for beating flax), stalk of corn
Gardener - rake & spade
Mason - wedge & level
Mariner - anchor, sextant
Merchant - scales, sign
Minister - Bible
Shoemaker - awl, knife, nippers
Smith - crown, hammer & anvil
Teacher - open book
Weaver - loom, shuttle & stretchers
Wood Wright - wooden objects they made


Birds - eternal life or resurrection
Butterfly - short life
Dog - good master
Dove - peace & eternal life
Lamb - innocence
Lion - courage
Rooster - awakening, resurrection.


Fruits - plenty, fruits of life
Ivy - friendship, immortality
Laurel - accomplishment, heroism
Lily - innocence, purity
Morning Glory - beginning of life
Oak, Leaves and Acorn - power, victory
Palm Branch - victory, rejoicing
Poppy - eternal sleep
Roses - completion and the brevity of earthly existence
Rose (full bloom) - prime of life
Rosemary - remembrance
Thistles - remembrance, Scottish descent
Tree - life
Tree Trunk - short life
Tree Sapling - life everlasting
Tree Stump stone in Cemetery - Woodmen of the World
Wheat - divine harvest
Weeping Willow - grief

Misc. Symbols:

3 Books - Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants
3 Rings - the Oddfellows, friendship, love and truth
Angel - guardian, spirituality
Bible - Christian
Chalice - Sacraments
Cherub - innocence
Crescent - Goddess, Muslim religion
Cross - Christian, resurrection
Crown - glory of life after death
Flame / Light - to be immortal
Garland / Wreath - glory, Saintliness
Harp - Praise to the God
Heart - Catholic, love, suffering of Christ
Hearts (2) - marriage
Horns - wisdom, rebirth
Menorah - Judaism
Ring (broken) - family circle has been severed
Rod / Staff - comfort
Star - spirit that shines
Star of David - Judaism
Sun - renewed life
Swords Crossed - high Military rank
Trumpeters - Harbingers of the Resurrection
Urn - immortality, remembrance


a.a.s. - died in the year of his/her age (56 years died in 1856)
d.s.p. - died without issue
d.s.p.l. - died without legitimate issue
d.s.p.m.s. - died without surviving male issue
d.s.p.s - died without surviving issue
d.unm - died unmarried
d.v.p. - died in the lifetime of his father
d.v.m. - died in the lifetime of his mother
Et al - and others
F.L.T. - friendship, love and truth
Inst - present month
Liber - book or volume
Nepos - grandson
Nunc Nun - an oral will, written by a witness
Ob - he/she died
Rel. or Relict - widow or widower
Res. or Residue - widow or widower
Sic - exact copy as written
Testes - witnesses
Ult - late
Ux or vs - wife
Viz - namely