inter, intern, interment, internment


Yesterday I had to go to a funeral. There was a complete order of service, as is normal these days, and I was rather surprised to see, not once, but three times, reference to the deceased’s “internment”. This had nothing to do with service in the IRA during the Northern Irish Troubles, but was telling us where his body was to lie after the ceremony. I put the confusion down to poor proof-reading in the hurry to produce the sheet in time, so I was very much taken aback to hear the priest in charge (this was a very high Anglican funeral, complete with request for God to bless the Pope – Henry VIII would not have been amused), having told us that the body would be interred in the parish burial ground, go on to invite all members of the congregation to attend the “internment”. The order of service was clearly deliberately spelled in that way.

Ironically, in her eulogy, the widow told us that one of the things her late husband had always hated, and pointed out in books and newspapers, was misspelling.

inter = bury

intern = imprison without trial

interment = burial

internment = imprisonment without trial


  1. Thank you for this posting, I am currently writting an order of service for my father and would also have used the word internment not interment.

  2. oops – can’t even spell “writing” properly… lol

  3. I think Simon can be excused the double T – his finger probably bounced on the key. It happens. I’m glad to have been useful to him!

  4. Thank you! I’ve just won the arguement that has been brewing here 🙂

  5. our newspaper had spelled it internment. As I was preparing the order of service for my son’s funeral, my spellcheck did not correct either spelling of internment or interment or interrment so I was confused. perhaps they are all correct words, with different meanings.

  6. Internship: working without pay usually for educational experience or credit

  7. Internships in some fields (eg software) are usually paid.

  8. The New Horizon probe to Pluto repeated the common mix-up. Ashes are beneath a plaque reading “Interned herein.”

  9. Oh dear! In fact, it could be argued that neither “interred” nor “interned” is appropriate in this context, and that “contained” would be a better word.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.