Tombstone Abbreviations
and Symbols
The most well known tombstone 
abbreviation is  RIP - rest in peace.
Here is some other abbreviations that 
you might just see next time you are in one of our lovely cemeteries.

AF&AM - (masonic)
AOF - Ancient Order Of Foresters
AOH - Ancient Order Of Hibernians
AOKMC - Ancient Order Of Knights 
                   of Mystic Chain
AOUW - Ancient Order Of 
                 United Workmen
ALOH - American Legion of Honor
AUM - Ancient Order of Mysteries- 
              Masonic Order
BPOE - Benevolent and Protective 
              Order of Elks
BPOEW - Benevolent and Protective 
                  Order of Elks of the World
CK of A - Catholic Knights of America
COOF - Catholic Order of Foresters
CTAS - Catholic Total Abstinence Society
CBKA - Commander Benevolent 
               Knights Association
CCTAS - Crusaders-Catholic Total 
                Abstinence Society
CSA - Confederate States of America
DAR - Daughters of American Revolution
EBA - Emerald Beneficial Association
FAA - Free and Accepted Americans
F&AM - Free and Accepted Masons.
FOE - Fraternal Order of Eagles
GALSTPTR - German American Legion 
                        of St. Peter
GAR - Grand Army of the Republic
GLAUM - Grand Lodge Ancient Order 
                   of Mysteries-Masonic Order
GUOOF - Grand United Order 
                  of Odd Fellows
IHSV - Red Cross of Constantine
IOI - Independent Order of Immaculates
IOKP - Independent Order of Knights 
             of Pythias
IOOF - Independent Order of Odd Fellows
ISH - Independent Sons of Honor
IORM - Improved Order of Redmen
IWW - Industrial Workers of the World
JAOUW - Junior Order-
                 Ancient Order of United Workmen
JOUAM - Junior Order-Order of 
                 United American Mechanics
KGL - Knight Grand Legion
KM - Knights Militant
KC - Knights of Columbus
K of C - Knights of Columbus
K of FM - Knights of Father Matthew
KFM - Knights of Father Matthew
K of H - Knights of Honor
K of L - Knights of Loyola
K M - Knights of Malta (Masonic)
KMC - Knights of the Mystic Chain
KPC - Knights of Peter Claver
KP - Knights of Pythias
K of P - Knights of Pythias
KSC - Knights of St. Columbkille
KG - Knights of St. George
KSTG - Knights of St. George
KSTI - Knights of St. Ignatius
K of SJ - Knights of St. John
KSTJ - Knights of St. Joseph
KSL - Knights of St. Lawrence
KSTM - Knights of St. Martin
K of STP - Knights of St. Patrick
KSTP - Knights of St. Paul
KSTP - Knights of St. Peter
KSTT - Knights of St. Thomas
K of STW - Knights of St. Wenceslas
KT - Knights of Tabor
K of T - Knights of Tabor
KWM - Knights of Wise Men
KGE - Knights of Golden Eagle
KHC - Knights of Holy Cross
KKK - Knights of Klu-Klux Klan
KOTM - Knights of Macabees
KSF - Knights of Sherwood Forest
KT - Knights Templars (Masonic)
LAOH - Ladies Ancient Order 
               of Hibernians
LK of A - Loyal Knights of America
LOM - Loyal Order of the M.O.O.S.E.
MOLLUS - Military Order of the 
                    Loyal Legion of the U. S.
MRA - Royal Arcanum
MWA - Modern Woodsmen of America
NOK - New Order Knights (see KKK)
OES - Order of the Eastern Star
OUAM - Order of United 
                American Mechanics
PM - Patriarchs Militant 
          (Independent Order of Odd Fellows)
POSA - Patriotic Order of the 
              Sons of America
RMOKHSJ - The Religious and Military 
                      Order of Knights of the Holy 
                      Sepulchre of Jerusalem
RSTV - Rite of St. Vaclara
RSTV - Rite of ST. Vita
RK - Roman Knights
SR - Scottish Rite (Masonic Order)
RAM - Royal Arch Masons
RO-AUM - Rosicrucian Order (Masonic)
SBCL - Saint Bonifazius Catholic Union
SBL - Society B. Lafayette
SCV - Sons of the Confederate Veterans
SAR - Sons of the American Revolution
SNA-AUM - Shrine of N. America (Masonic)
SV - Sons of Veterans
TH - Temple of Honor-
         Independent Order of Odd Fellows
UCV - United Confederate Veterans
UDC - United Daughters of the Confederacy
VFW - Veterans of Foreign Wars
WOW - Woodsmen of the World
This is a cemetery...
Lives are commemorated, Deaths are recorded,
Families are reunited,
Memories are made tangible and Love is undisguised.
This is a cemetery...
Communities accord respect, Families bestow reverence, Historians seek information and Our Heritage
 is thereby enriched.
Testimonies of devotion, pride and warmth are
carved in stone to pay warm tribute to accomplishments and to the life, not the death, of a loved one.
The cemetery is homeland for memorials that are a
sustaining source of comfort to the living.
A cemetery is a history of a people, a perpetual record of yesterday and a sanctuary of peace and quiet today.
A cemetery exists because every life is worth
 loving and remembering  --  always.
“ Show me your cemeteries, and I will tell you what kind of people you have.”
Ben Franklin
Since England is so old and small, they started running out of places to bury people.  So, they started digging up coffins, taking the bones out and reusing the graves.  This is when they discovered that some of the coffins had scratch marks on the inside.  One out of 25 coffins were this way and they realized they had been burying people alive.  So they decided they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin, up through the ground and tie it to a bell.  Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell.  Thus the saying "graveyard shift".  If the bell would ring they would know that someone was 
"saved by the bell", or he was a "dead ringer". 
A long time ago, people had lead cups and when they would drink ale or whiskey from them, the combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days.  This caused people to think they were dead.  They would pick them up, take them home and get them ready to bury.  They would lay them out on the kitchen table for a couple of days, the family would gather around to eat, drink and wait to see if they would wake up.  
Thus the custom of holding a "wake". 
Alpha & Omega-first and last letters of the  
                Greek  alphabet symbolizing  the 
                beginning & end of all things, 
                see Revelation 22:13
Anchor-hope, life eternal; may signify 
               seafaring profession
Arch-triumph, victory in death
Ark-church; salvation
Ark of Noah (rare)-refuge, salvation
Armor-protection from evil
Arrow-martyrdom, mortality
Arrow, quiver of-warlike
Banner-victory; triumph
Bells-call to worship
Bibles-resurrection through the scripture; 
            the clergy
Book-Bible; wisdom
Books, stacked-knowledge
Branch, severed-mortality
Bugles-resurrection; the military profession
Candle being snuffed-time, mortality
Candle flame-life
Candlestick-Christ; devotion
Celtic cross-circle on it symbolizes eternity
Circle-eternity; or earth
Clock, (rare)-passage of time, mortality
Clouds-the divine abode
Coats of arms and crests-lineage, status
Column, broken-sorrow; broken life
Columns, doors-heavenly entrance
Crescent moon-Virgin
Cross with rays of rising sun-glory
Cross with winding sheet-descent from cross
Crown-reward of faithful, victory, triumph,  
              glory; righteousness; resurrection
Crown on cross-sovereignty of Christ
Darts-mortality, dart of death
Drapery over anything-sorrow; mourning
Field artillery (rare)-the military profession
Finger-pointing to heaven
Fleur-de-lis-Virgin; Trinity
Portals-passageways to the eternal journey
Portraits-stylized likenesses of the deceased
Pyramid-symbolic of death
Rock-steadfastness of Christ; stability
Rosary-devotion to Mary
Scales-weighing of souls; justice
Scroll-the law; Scriptures
Scythe-time, the divine harvest
Shell-pilgrimage: baptism of Christ
Shell, scallop-pilgrim; pilgrim's journey; 
Ship-the Church
Ships' profiles-the seafaring profession
Shrine-wisdom; knowledge
Skeletons-mortality, Death
Skull-death; sin
Skull, winged-flight of the soul from 
           mortal man
Skulls and crossbones-mortality
Star-birth-life; Christ
Star, five pointed-Star of Bethlehem; star of Jacob; divine   
          guidance and protection
Star, six pointed-the Father, Creation,
         heavenly wisdom
Sun-God or Son
Sun, setting-death
Sun, rising-resurrection; renewed life
Suns, moons and stars-the reward
          of the resurrection
Sword-martyrdom; courage; warfare
Swords, crossed-high ranking military person
Three points, three leaves, three of any 
Torch-zeal; enlightenment
Torch, inverted-extinction of life; death; 
Torch, upright-immortality, liberty, upright          
             life, the scholastic world, the betrayal 
             of Christ
Trumpet-day of judgment; resurrection
Urn-soul; mortality
Urn, draped-death, sorrow
Winged wheel-holy spirit
Yoke-burden-bearing; service; patience TREES AND PLANTS
Almond-favor from God; Virgin birth
Apple-sin; Eve
Bouquets-condolences, grief
Buds-renewal of life
Cedar-strong faith; length of days; success
Cypress-sorrow; death; eternal life, Roman 
                              symbol for mourning
Easter lily-modern flower symbolic of 
Flower-brevity of earthly existence, sorrow; 
              certain flowers may symbolize 
              emotions, particular aspirations, 
              attitudes, both religious and secular
Flower, broken-premature death
Fruit-eternal plenty
Fruit and vine-Jesus Christ; the Christian 
Gourds-the coming to be and passing away of 
               all earthly matters
Ivy-abiding memory, friendship, fidelity
Laurel-victory, triumph, glory
Lily, lilies-resurrection, purity
Lotus-Egyptian water lily and ornament
Oak-supernatural power and strength; eternity
Olive-peace; healing faith
Palm-spiritual victory over death; martyrdom; 
          reward of the righteous; peace; a plant 
          whose leaves resemble a hand
Pomegranate-immortality; resurrection; unity; 
                                          nourishment of the soul
Poppy-symbolic of sleep, therefore, death
Roses-condolence, sorrow; the brevity of 
            earthly existence; of English descent--
            the Tudor rose
Sheaves of wheat-time, the divine harvest
Strawberry-righteousness; humility
Thistle-of Scottish descent; the inevitability of 
                                                death, remembrance
Tree-faith; life; the Tree of Life
Tree, felled-mortality
Tree trunk, broken-premature death
Vine-Christian church; Christ; wine, the 
          symbolic blood of Jesus; the sacraments
Wheat sheaves-the divine harvest
Willow, weeping-grief; death (carried at Masonic funerals); earthly  
               sorrow, the symbolic tree of human sadness, Nature's lament
Wreath-victory in death, indestructible crown 
              worn by triumphant Christian; eternity
Wreath worn by skull-victory of death over life
Yew-immortality LATIN PHRASES
Fugit hora-"hours are fleeting", "time flies"
                     IHS-monogram or symbol 
                     representing the Greek                  
                     contraction of "Jesus": sometimes 
                     regarded as an abbreviation of the 
                     Latin phrase meaning 
                     "Jesus, Savior of Men"
INRI-often seen on a banner of latin cross: 
         "Iesus  Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum". Latin 
          for Jesus  of Nazareth, King of the Jews
          (John 12:19-22)
Memento mori-"remember death"
Tempus erat-"time is gone"; "time has run out"
XP-Chi Rho-first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" FIGURES
Angel-messenger between God & man; guide
Angel, flying-rebirth; guardian angel
Angel, trumpeting-call to the resurrection
Angel, weeping-grief
Breasts-the Divine, nourishing fluid of the soul (17th century);
              the church; the ministry; the nourishment of the soul
Child, sleeping-Victorian death motif
Death's head, winged-mortality
Effigies-the soul
Effigies, crowned-personal reward of righteousness
Effigies, winged-the flight of the soul
Father Time-mortality, the grim reaper
Four Evangelists-Matthew, winged man; Mark, winged lion; Luke,
                               winged ox; John, winged eagle
Hand of God, pointing downward-mortality, sudden death
Hand of God, pointing upward-the reward of the righteous;
                         confirmation of life after death
Hands-devotion, prayer
Handshakes-farewell to earthly existence
Hands clasped-in death as in life, the devotion of these two is
                           not destroyed
Imps-figures, some winged, some not, doing funeral related tasks;
Man, winged-St. Matthew the Evangelist
Trumpeters-heralds of the resurrection
Woman, weeping-mourning; recalls myth of Niobe, whom the  
                gods turned to stone as she wept for her slain children
“Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes ashes we all fall down.” Everyone remembers this childhood rhyme, but do you know where it came from and what it means?
This rhyme originates from Europe during the 17th century in 1665. The Black Plague was claiming many people. The rosie is the red rash, the first sign of the plague, the pocket full of posies were herbs or flowers that people carried with them to cover up the smell of sickness and death. “Ashes ashes we all fall down" was the allusion to death
“ Paths of
glory lead but to the grave.”
Patterson Ambulance Going to Wreck
 “Merry Widow”
Postcard mailed 1911