8 Funeral Service Jargon Terms That Need To Die (Pun Intended)

Recently we polled our audience on Facebook about what their least favorite funeral service jargon terms were.

This question was sparked as an attempt to bring language to the shifts occurring in this profession. 

We saw a lot of the same answers, and it helped us to come to a conclusion…

It seems as we make our way away from tradition and towards innovation and celebration, we may want to do away with some ancient, offensive and downright spooky terms that just aren’t serving us anymore.

We gathered up the answers from our post in this blog, take a look and let us know what you think in the comments below:


#1: Undertaker


The only thing worse than the outdated word “undertaker” is the image our society conjures up around that word. Kind of like the image above, but perhaps even creepier.

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: Death care worker, funeral director, funeral professional, funeral pro


#2: Clients


Who wants to be called a “client” when you just lost someone you loved? Or worse, who wants their beloved who passed to be called a client? No one. That’s who. This word screams “sales” and I think the last thing we want to do in the death profession is be insensitive and salesy during a loss.

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: Client family, family, or (bonus points) just call them by their name.


#3: Coffin


Kind of like the word “Undertaker” nothing screams spooky, haunted, Halloween vibes more than the word coffin. Cue the deep, depressing organ sounds please.

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: Casket, final resting place


#4: Ashes


Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Never use this word to describe a loved one if you want to earn trust. Like our rhyme? We hope it got the message through. A human body may turn to ashes when it’s cremated, but it’s not just ashes. It’s the loved one. The form may change, but let’s have some common sense and sensitivity here.

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: Remains, loved one


#5: Corpse


“Oh yeah, you’re Uncle? His corpse is in the other room! Want to see it?”…. Said no professional funeral director ever. Sure, we are working on demystifying death and yes, it is helpful to accept the death. But maybe let’s try with more grace. 

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: the person’s name, “loved one”, the deceased, the departed


#6: Cremains


This word isn’t so much offensive as it is simply irritating for many funeral pros out there. So can we all just agree to stop saying it? Thank you very much.

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: simply remains works.


#7: Funeral Industry


There’s a lot of sensitivity and “ouchness” around this word. Mostly because “industry” refers to a more consumerist mindset, and funeral professionals really don’t like to be seen as “sellers” of “services”. Instead, they see themselves as a service provider of something important and genuine. 

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: funeral profession, death care profession, funeral service, funeral business


#8: Price shopper


Is this “The Price is Right”?! Didn’t think so. So let’s just stop using the word “price shopper” altogether because it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. If we’re in SERVICE, let’s serve. Not sell.

A better, more appropriate word(s) would be: client family, family, nothing at all.


What are your least favorite funeral jargon terms? Tell us in the comments below!

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  2. Breahn Royal

    I do not like when facilities refer to people who have passed away as “expired”…. how terrible! They are not dairy products!

  3. Krystal Penrose

    Oh gosh! That’s a terrible word to use 🙁 I’m sorry that even happens!

  4. Danielle Desjarlais

    I agree with just about every single one of these terms, save one. I frequently use the term “Undertaker” when asked what I do for a living. I tell people I’m an Undertaker. This came after years of frustrating conversations about “who embalms the bodies?” …”I do”….”Who arranges the funerals?” ….”I do”……”Who drives the cars?….” I do”. Telling people I was a Funeral Director gave them the impression I just stood at the front and pointed a lot; they seemed to get the idea once the Undertaker came around. I don’t do it as much anymore but still use the term once in a while.

    Now cremains? Ugh. That one can go way far away. Like now.

  5. Krystal Penrose

    Danielle, I hear you! I love that you’re owning the word undertaker fully and it sounds like giving it more modern meaning! Thank you for doing that.

  6. Kris

    You had me at “cremains.” Ugh, what a terrible non-word. Others include:

    – The body
    – “Where did it die?” (Instead of using a name or appropriate pronoun)
    – Hearst
    – Direct Disposer (In Florida, that’s what they call licensed individuals at a Direct Cremation firm.