English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I understand that after cremation, the remains are put through a crenulator to reduce them to ashes and to sift out metals. I assume it's a sort of shaker/sieve.

share|improve this question
A shaker and sieve might be used after bone fragments have been powdered, to separate metals (dental, jewelry, prostheses, coffin nails) from bone dust, but the main mechanism in a cremulator often is a flail or hammer mill with metal flails or chains hinged to periphery of a disk or cylinder. Ball mills and blender-like grinders also have been used. – jwpat7 Mar 10 '12 at 17:24

The word you're looking for is cremulator a device to grind the bone fragments that remain after cremation into fine powder.

It's probably a slightly macabre jokey extension from crenulate/crenate (having a notched or scalloped edge, as certain leaves) in reference to the fact that notched rollers are likely to be part of the grinder.

share|improve this answer
What piques my interest here is that having a margin with small rounded teeth seems to imply the the crenels are the teeth, but in castle terminology, crenels are the spaces between the merlons (teeth). – Jim Mar 10 '12 at 0:16
@Jim: I'm not going to look up the etymology, but I think the fact that a leaf, for example, may be described as crenulate acknowledges the bits "nibbled out" of the potential straight edge, not the fact that there are "sticky-out" bits left to form the jagged edge. – FumbleFingers Mar 10 '12 at 0:21
@jwpat7: Thanks for info. Dunno what happened there - I changed the link. – FumbleFingers Mar 10 '12 at 15:34

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.