'Memorium’ or ‘Memoriam’: Which is Correct Grammar?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on September 13, 2022

Ever been confused about whether or not the correct word is ‘memorium’ or 'memoriam'? You’re not alone! And this is why we’ve written this article.

Today we’re going to get into the ins and outs of the word and its usage.

  • The correct spelling of the Latin word is “memoriam.”

Usage of ‘Memorium’ or ‘Memoriam’

The phrase 'in memoriam' has a pretty deep meaning, and its usage is rooted in tradition. Let's find out when it's appropriate to use the term.

Is It ‘Memorium’ or ‘Memoriam’?

Why is there such confusion around the correct spelling of the word? Your guess is as good as ours!

With ‘memoriam’ being a Latin word and -ium being a typical ending for Latin words, this may be why so many are confused about the accurate spelling and tentatively write the word ‘memorium’. We must admit, it does sound better that way!

But unfortunately, that isn’t the correct way, so the word has to be written - and pronounced - memoriam.

What Does In Memoriam Mean?

As we have mentioned, ‘memoriam’ is a Latin word. The term has been around since the 19th century and means ‘memory of’, which is exactly how the term is used in the English language.

It is used when we want to show that we are thinking of a person who has passed away and we want to mark the occasion, show our respects, or say something about them.

The phrase ‘in memoriam’ is often used on gravestone markings (also known as epitaphs) or other monuments. Those are the words that are written on your grave after you die. It’s a sort of tribute to who you were as a person.

You will often see the word as a heading in obituaries. If you attend a funeral and are handed a pamphlet, you’ll often see it written at the top: ‘In memoriam of’ followed by the name of the deceased.

An online search for ‘In Memoriam’ will also s also bring up a famous poem written by Alfred Tennyson, which he wrote over a record-breaking 17 years!

'In Memoriam' Examples

So how do you use ‘in memoriam’ in a sentence? Let us show you some examples so you can understand how to use the term.

  • Have you seen the in memoriam notices in the paper?
  • We are hosting a dinner in memoriam of all the loved ones we’ve lost to cancer.
  • The whole country wore black for a year in memoriam of their deceased king.

What Does ‘In Memory Of’ Mean?

‘In memory of’ basically carries the same meaning as ‘in memoriam’. The two are interchangeable.

So why not just use ‘in memory of’?

That’s a great question. And there isn’t a simple answer to that.

It is possible that ‘in memoriam’ still gets used out of habit or because it sounds more official. Being a Latin word, it also sounds very poetic. Some people may like the sound of ‘in memoriam’ better than ‘in memory of.’

What is a Memoriam Notice?

A memoriam notice is an announcement for a death notice or an obituary.

Death notices and obituaries contain information about the person who died, such as their name and where the funeral or memorial service will occur.

Memorial notices tend to be posted in a newspaper, either in print or online. You can also find them in your neighborhood magazine and other local paperwork.

Remembering Your Loved Ones

How do You Write a ‘Memoriam’?

In order to pay tribute to your loved one who has passed away, you may wish to write something in their memory. This could be a draft for a speech you will give at the funeral or even a piece you’d like to have published online or in a magazine or newspaper.

Whichever way you decide to go, we’re outlining below some guidelines that you can follow to get the best result out of your writing.

Spend time getting inspired

Try spending some time thinking about your loved one. You could play one of their favorite songs and sit in reflection for a little while. Think about how they made you feel, what their hobbies were, and how they treated people. This is your opportunity to get inspired about what you’re going to say about them. Take notes as you do this. Nothing complicated - just a few words here in there.

Spot common threads

Look over your notes. Do you see a theme emerging? Start to think of the angle you can take for your memoriam piece. What kind of picture do you want to paint? For people who weren’t acquainted with your loved one, what would you like them to know? You can’t tell all the stories, so which ones will you tell?

Tell a story

Now it’s time to bring the whole thing together into a beginning, middle, and end. Giving an overview of someone’s life in chronological order can be a great way to pay tribute to someone. Or you may choose to write about one particular piece of their life. Whichever way you choose to go about it, remember that you’re telling a story, so some structure will help your readers or listeners get the true gist of the person’s life.

Here’s a list of common words to include in a memoriam piece of writing:

  • celebratory
  • memorial
  • commemoratory
  • dedicatory
  • in remembrance
  • observing
  • in honor of

Proofread and edit

Go over your text again. Have you gotten the right message across? Will readers/listeners truly get a sense of the life the deceased lived, and who they were as a person? How long is your text? If it’s a speech you might want to read it aloud to see how long it takes. You don’t want to do a disservice to your story by making it too long and losing people along the way.

Take action

So now you’ve written your text, decide what you’ll do with it. Is this going in a magazine or other printed publication? If so, find out the contact info you need to get in touch with them and send it across. If your text is intended to be a speech, then you can begin preparing by rehearsing it out loud, waiting for the day when you’ll recite the real thing.

Ways to Remember/Honor Your Loved Ones Passing

If writing isn’t your thing, don’t fret! There are many other ways that you can honor your loved one who has passed. Read on to find out some of our favorite ways

Flowers say it all

Did the person you lost like flowers? If so, why not bring a bouquet of their favorites to the funeral? If you’re unsure which ones they favored, ask a family member, or someone who was close to them.

A photo tribute

Photo collages are great ways to bring a person’s story to life. Create a digital slideshow or a physical collage of the deceased person sharing a special moment with their friends and family throughout the course of their life. If displaying this at a funeral or memorial, try to include everyone who will be present. They will love seeing themselves with their dear departed soul and reminiscing on some pleasant memories.

Memory book

You could make a blank book available for people to write down their favorite memories of the person. A guest book will serve this purpose beautifully; you can display it at the entrance of the room where the funeral or memorial will take place. Think of all the memories you’ll be able to read after the funeral.

Blog - ‘Memorium’ or ‘Memoriam’: Which is Correct Grammar?

We hope that you found this article useful - not only in knowing whether to use the word ‘memorium’ or ‘memoriam’, but also in helping you write your own memorial, and finding good ways to honor your loved one who has passed on.

To summarize, ‘memoriam’ it the correct word and ‘memorium’ is not a word - at least not in English or Latin.

If you have lost someone close to you, please accept our sincere condolences, and hope you will find some solace in writing about them and/or honoring their memory.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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