Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A meditation upon death.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A view or contemplation of death.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A view of death; a meditation on the subject of death.
  • proper noun The title of a poem by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), meditating on the subject of death. One of Bryant's best-remembered poems, it was written in 1811 and was discovered and rushed to publication in 1817 (in the North American Review) by Bryant's father, originally without the poet's knowledge. A revised version was published in 1821. In this elegy Bryant reflects that death comes to all men, common and great, and that all eventually shall rest together in the "mighty sepulchre" of the earth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun contemplation of death

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an essay expressing a view on the subject of death

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Greek thanatos, death + –opsis.]

Examples

  • As the countdown continued and the ritual of docile thanatopsis became more intense, Matt and Emily began to edge away from their half-mesmerized guards, pushing Eve in the antigrav chair and keeping close to the outer ring of lepidos.

    Perseus Spur

  • After they are informed of the situation, Administrator Ru Lokinak will lead us in the ritual of docile thanatopsis, since there is no Anointed Elder in the company.

    Perseus Spur

  • It had to be the Haluk thanatopsis — their death meditation.

    Perseus Spur

  • Faintly, I heard the sound of the thanatopsis chant.

    Perseus Spur

  • This intimate thanatopsis had made him hard and he almost regretted having killed the Chinese boy.

    The Ninja

  • The pie list swelled; the richer puddings had vanished; the sausage, with his drapery wrapped about him, barely lingered in a pleasant thanatopsis with the buckwheats and the sweet but doomed maple.

    The Four Million

  • NBC’s airing of Cho Seung-Hui’s ranting thanatopsis isn't anything media wouldn't have run with 200 years ago.

    What Boundaries of Openness?

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