Morgue
Overview
 
A morgue or mortuary (in a hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

 or elsewhere) is used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification, or removal for autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 or disposal by burial
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

, cremation
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 or otherwise. In modern times they have customarily been refrigerated to delay decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

.
The term morgue is derived from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 morgue, which means 'to look at solemnly, to defy'. First used to describe the inner wicket of a prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

, where new prisoners were kept so that jailers and turnkeys could recognise them in the future, it took on its modern meaning in fifteenth century Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, being used to describe part of the Châtelet
Grand Châtelet
The Grand Châtelet was a stronghold in Ancien Régime Paris, on the right bank of the Seine, on the site of what is now the Place du Châtelet; it contained a court and police headquarters and a number of prisons....

 used for the storage and identification of unknown corpses.

Morgue is predominantly used in North American English
North American English
North American English is the variety of the English language of North America, including that of the United States and Canada. Because of their shared histories and the similarities between the pronunciation, vocabulary and accent of American English and Canadian English, the two spoken languages...

, while mortuary is more common in British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

, although both terms are used interchangeably.
Encyclopedia
A morgue or mortuary (in a hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

 or elsewhere) is used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification, or removal for autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 or disposal by burial
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

, cremation
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 or otherwise. In modern times they have customarily been refrigerated to delay decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

.

Etymology and lexicology

The term morgue is derived from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 morgue, which means 'to look at solemnly, to defy'. First used to describe the inner wicket of a prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

, where new prisoners were kept so that jailers and turnkeys could recognise them in the future, it took on its modern meaning in fifteenth century Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, being used to describe part of the Châtelet
Grand Châtelet
The Grand Châtelet was a stronghold in Ancien Régime Paris, on the right bank of the Seine, on the site of what is now the Place du Châtelet; it contained a court and police headquarters and a number of prisons....

 used for the storage and identification of unknown corpses.

Morgue is predominantly used in North American English
North American English
North American English is the variety of the English language of North America, including that of the United States and Canada. Because of their shared histories and the similarities between the pronunciation, vocabulary and accent of American English and Canadian English, the two spoken languages...

, while mortuary is more common in British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

, although both terms are used interchangeably. The euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

s "Rose Cottage" and "Rainbow's End" are sometimes used in British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 hospitals to enable discussion in front of patients, the latter mainly for children.

A person responsible for handling and washing bodies is now known as a diener
Diener
The word Diener is German for servant. In English, it is generally used to describe the person, in the morgue, responsible for handling, moving, and cleaning the corpse...

, morgue attendant, or autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 technician.

Types of cold chambers

There are two types of mortuary cold chambers:
Positive temperature
Bodies are kept between 2°C (36°F) and 4°C (39°F). While this is usually used for keeping bodies for up to several weeks, it does not prevent decomposition, which continues at a slower rate than at room temperature.

Negative temperature
Bodies are kept at between -10°C (14°F) and -50°C (-58°F). Usually used at forensic institutes, particularly when a body has not been identified. At these temperatures the body is completely frozen
Freezing
Freezing or solidification is a phase change in which a liquid turns into a solid when its temperature is lowered below its freezing point. The reverse process is melting....

 and decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

 is very much reduced.

Mortuaries across the world

In some countries, the body of the deceased is embalmed before disposal, which makes refrigeration unnecessary.

In many countries, the family of the deceased must make the burial within 72 hours (three days) of death, but in some other countries it is usual that burial takes place some weeks or months after the death. This is why some corpses are kept as long as one or two years at a hospital or in a funeral home
Funeral home
A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral services for the deceased and their families. These services may include aprepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral....

. When the family has enough money to organize the ceremony, the corpse is taken from the cold chamber for burial.

In some funeral homes, the morgue is in the same room, or directly adjacent to, the specially designed ovens, known as retort
Retort
In a chemistry laboratory, a retort is a glassware device used for distillation or dry distillation of substances. It consists of a spherical vessel with a long downward-pointing neck. The liquid to be distilled is placed in the vessel and heated...

s, that are used in funerary cremation
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

. Some religions dictate that, should a body be cremated, the family must witness its incineration. To honor these religious rites, many funeral homes install a viewing window, which allows the family to watch as the body is inserted into the retort. In this way, the family can honor their customs without entering the morgue.

Waiting mortuary


A Waiting mortuary is a mortuary building designed specifically for the purpose of confirming that deceased persons are truly deceased. Prior to the advent of modern methods of verifying death, people feared that they would be buried alive. To alleviate such fears, the recently deceased were housed for a time in waiting mortuaries, where attendants would watch for signs of life. The corpses would be allowed to decompose partially prior to burial. Waiting mortuaries were most popular in 19th century Germany, and were often large ornate halls.

A bell was strung to the corpses to alert attendants of any motion. Although there is no documented case of a person being saved from accidental burial in this way,
it is sometimes erroneously believed that this was the origin of the phrase "Saved by the bell", whilst in fact, the phrase originates from the sport of boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

.

Alternative meanings

In American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

:
  • Morgue is used to refer to the room in which newspaper
    Newspaper
    A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

     or magazine
    Magazine
    Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

     publishers keep their back issues and other historical references, as they serve a similar purpose to human morgues. See Morgue file
    Morgue file
    A morgue file originally was the paper-folders containing old files and notes that were kept by criminal investigators, and old article clippings kept by newspaper reporters, in case they became of later use as a quick-reference....

    .
  • Mortuary can also be used to refer to a funeral home
    Funeral home
    A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral services for the deceased and their families. These services may include aprepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral....

    .
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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