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Difference Between Cemetery and Graveyard

Cemetery vs Graveyard

Graveyards and cemeteries, at first, may seem to be one and the same thing. Well, this comes as no surprise as people nowadays have come to use both interchangeably. Some online dictionaries even define the two with almost similar definitions. A graveyard has been defined as the ground where the dead are buried, in short – a cemetery. Similarly, a cemetery has been defined as a burial ground – a graveyard.

However, if you’ve noticed, most undertakers speak of cemeteries only and not graveyards. Well, there has to be a reason for this. It is because a cemetery and a graveyard are two different burial places for the dead (humans).
Foremost, cemeteries are usually pictured as the more beautiful place to bury the dead. It’s like a tranquil and serene environment that, more often than not, is landscaped well with green grass and colorful flowers. Cemeteries are often quiet where the visitors of the departed can reflect, meditate, and even look up to the sky and listen to the birds chirping. Aside from being landscaped, the cemeteries have a sense of symmetry, and the tombstones are well marked and are usually arranged in rows or columns.

By contrast, the usual description and stigma associated with a graveyard is that it is usually adorned by dead trees and is absent of landscaped grass. There are many graveyards today that bury the dead in a seemingly disorganized arrangement giving the usual impression of a crammed up burial spot. Thus, more people traditionally prefer to be buried in the cemetery rather than in the graveyard.
In addition, there’s poor upkeep at the graveyard compared to the cemetery which is usually maintained well by a maintenance crew. In many situations even there’s hardly anyone willing to clean the graveyard. It will not be surprising to see that the tombstones look dirty, decayed, and somewhat faded at the graveyard.


1.The cemetery is a burial place for the dead that is usually located far from the church.
2.The graveyard is a burial place located near or beside the church (churchyard).
3.There’s better maintenance and upkeep at the cemetery compared to the graveyard.
4.In most cases, the cemetery is the more spacious, tranquil, organized, and beautiful place for eternal rest compared to the graveyard.
5.More people prefer to be buried in the cemetery rather than in the graveyard.

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  1. In Northern Ireland:
    Graveyard is Protestant
    Cemetery is Catholic.

  2. well its not the case in my parish churchyard. Our church receives funding from local council, it has always been preferred by the church that someone local maintains it well that’s me. for 27 years I have had the post of groundsman, the ground is cut twice a month in season, eavry grave strimmed, and dead flowers removed, hedges and trees kept tidy. the adjoining cemetery is a mess as the person who does that part takes no pride in his work.

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