The expression “6 feet under” is a common euphemism for death because of the notion that cemetery workers always dig gravesites to a standard depth of 6 feet (1.83 meters). But are cemetery graves are really six feet deep?

Certain details of a grave, such as the state of the body found within it and any objects found with the body may provide information for archaeologists about how the body may have lived before its death, including the time period in which it lived and the culture that it had been a part of.

The excavation that forms the grave. Excavations vary from shallow scraping to the removal of topsoil to a depth of 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more where a vault or burial chamber is to be constructed.

However, most modern graves in the United States are only 4 feet deep as the casket is placed into a concrete box

ORIGIN

Most sources say that the origin of the term came from 17th century London. During a plague that struck the city, the Lord Mayor of London sent out a decree that all of the city’s deceased be buried at least six feet deep. This was done so with the hope of curtailing the spread of the disease.

While the London mayor should have been given a pat on the back for attempting to stop the plague, he didn’t realize that disease travels from person to person in a variety of methods, such as by fleas and rats.

The law eventually fell out of favor both in England and its colonies. Modern American burial laws vary from state to state, though many states simply require a minimum of 18 inches of soil on top of the casket or burial vault.

It all started with the plague: The origins of “six feet under” come from a 1665 outbreak in England. As the disease swept the country, the mayor of London literally laid down the law about how to deal with the bodies to avoid further infections.

Among his specifications—made in “Orders Conceived and Published by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, Concerning the Infection of the Plague”—was that “all the graves shall be at least six feet deep.”

The law eventually fell out of favor both in England and its colonies. Modern American burial laws vary from state to state,

%d bloggers like this: