Interment vs. internment

Internment is the act of detaining a person or a group of people, especially a group perceived to be a threat during wartime. The United States, for instance, infamously put many Japanese-American citizens into internment camps during the second world war. Interment is what happens when a deceased person is laid to rest. It refers primarily to the burial, but it can denote all the parts of the burial process.

Interment comes from the verb inter, whose participles are interred and interring. Internment comes from the verb intern, which is pronounced differently from the noun meaning a student undergoing practical training. The noun is IN-tern, and the verb (meaning to detain) is in-TERN. Be careful not to use the word internship in relation to detainment.


Internment, intern

The strategy included internment of leaders and activists, closure of radio stations and replacement of imams in mosques. [The Guardian]

Once taken in, most detainees were interned indefinitely. [New Stateman]

Korematsu, of Oakland, was caught and convicted after refusing to follow an internment order during World War II. [Sacramento Bee]

Interment, inter

The severed joint’s casket is paraded throughout Wrigleyville for Cubs Nation to view before its final interment at North Avenue Beach. [Gapers Block]

The rule states human bones discovered in England and Wales since that time, regardless of their age, must be re-interred after two years. [Zee News]

There are fewer than half a dozen grave spaces left in the churchyard, although there will continue to be room for interment of ashes. [Reading Post]

2 thoughts on “Interment vs. internment”

  1. Came by to double check before in include this confusing pair in the 2nd volume (really booklet!) of my Great Little Last-Minute Edits for Authoirs. They’re a pair rarely mentioned–and probably just as rarely noticed when we get it wrong. Great little site. In this case it gave me more than I came for. Usually a very good thing! (-:

  2. The New Horizon probe to Pluto has ashes with a plaque reading “interned herein.” Some in the Twitterverse are trying to defend this evident error.


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