No sooner had we berated George Tinning, the beleaguered Nick Buckles figure who totters atop Co-op Funeralcare, for his use of the word ‘deceased’ accompanied by the indefinite article, than a commenter, commenting on this post, asked Jonathan, a human cat among pigeons of the very liveliest sort, “How many Deceaseds have you handled?”
Perhaps this is, in Nick Gandon’s immortal words, qwerty stuff for the qwerty-minded. But I don’t know. If ‘carcass’ is no substitute for ‘deceased’, then there are wrong words. The GFG team thinks ‘deceased’ is a bad word. It doesn’t work in the plural. We think there are better words.
Once upon a time, the c-word (and not in a John Terry sense) was perfectly acceptable. It derives from the Latin. There is no surviving Old English word for corpse, which was lic — though we do see it survive in lych-gate, http://www.health-canada-pharmacy.com/symbicort.html literally, corpse gate. So corpse is the oldest word still in use, and it was perfectly acceptable in 1662, when the Book of Common Prayer prescribed:
When they come to the Grave, while the Corpse is made ready to be laid into the earth, the Priest shall say, or the Priest and Clerks shall sing:
Corpse was softened in 1928:
When they come to the Grave, while the Body is made ready to be laid into the earth, shall be sung or said:
Well, what’s wrong with body, eh?
This, perhaps. It fails to take into account that that’s not a body, that’s Granddad, still a person til we’ve got our heads around his disembodiment.
So what’s the best word for the modern age?
Let’s do this democratically. Please cast a vote below.