What Does 'Memorialize' Mean?


When someone famous passes away, you’ll hear the terms “memorial,” “memorialize,” “commemorate,” “honor,” and “tribute” used in connection with their name. Most of these words mean that someone or a group of people is planning a special service to honor the life of the person who passed away.

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Memorializing, however, doesn’t always mean that an actual event is taking place. If you want to memorialize someone, you could choose several different ways to do so. So, just what does the word “memorialize” mean, how is it used properly, and when should you use this word instead of others?

Definition of Memorialize

Memorialize is another way of saying you want to provide a memorial for or commemorate someone. You could also be saying that you want to preserve someone’s memory.

When you combine the various definitions, you get this: to memorialize someone is to provide a memorial to commemorate their life and preserve their memory.

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The word “memorialize” can be traced back to the 14th century from the Old French word memorial which meant “to remember” or “to be mindful of.” Roots can also be found in Latin with the word memorialis meaning “belonging to memory” and memoria which means “to remember.”

The “-ize” part of the word that turns the word “memorial” into a verb came from a few different places including Middle English -isen, Old French -iser/izer, Latin -izare, and Greek -izein. Over time, -ize and -ise were predominantly used with both surviving in a wide range of English words today.

In the UK, the spelling is most often “memorialise” whereas in America the spelling is consistently “memorialize.”

In a sentence

Here are a few examples to help you get familiar with using this word.

When Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash, the whole world memorialized the duo.

Shortly after Princess Diana passed away due to a car crash, her memory was memorialized around the world.

After Steve Jobs passed away, a software company founder in Budapest made plans to memorialize Jobs by commissioning a statue in his honor.

Other Words Related to Memorialize

There are several other words you might hear in connection with memorializing someone. Here are the four most popular.


Commemorate means you honor the memory of a person and usually with an event.

The Founder’s Festival commemorates the founding of our town in 1785.


To venerate someone means you honor someone with an act of devotion or to hold someone in high regard with reverential respect.

The late playwright was venerated by thousands of devoted fans, poets, and writers. 


To esteem someone means you regard them with deep respect.

It was clear to see that all of her colleagues held her in high esteem. Her presence would definitely be missed.


When you create a tribute, you are doing something that acknowledges your respect, gratitude, or admiration of someone.

His children put together a touching tribute video and played it during his celebration-of-life service.

Examples of Memorializing Someone Who Died

Memorializing a loved one is a special way to honor their memory and legacy. There are many ways you can create a memorial to your loved one or friend depending on your level of expertise, comfort with public speaking, or creativity. Here are several of the most common ways people are memorialized.

Online memorial site

An online memorial site is a place where friends, family, loved ones, and fans can honor the life of someone they know. Memorial sites are often put together by a member of the family; then the link is shared so people can add memories to the person’s tribute page, comment and share condolences, and even upload their own photos and video clips.

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Social media

Social media pages are used the world around. When someone passes away, some platforms allow their page to be memorialized. When you memorialize a Facebook account, for example, the page becomes one where friends and loved ones can post messages and pictures to remember the person who passed. At the top of the person’s page, it will say, Remembering [name] instead of just having their name alone. 

An administrator, known as a legacy contact, can approve tributes, change the profile picture, and generally ensure the memorialized Facebook page is used in accordance with their deceased loved one’s wishes.


Murals can be painted to memorialize someone’s life. When Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died, murals popped up all around the world. Some featured the famous basketball player on the court, while others featured a head-on image of the smiling NBA star. All were created in tribute to honor his life.


Statues are often used as a permanent way to memorialize someone’s life. These create a permanent and public place for people to gather to remember someone’s life, legacy, and the special way they contributed to the world. 

Many famous people have statues around the world including people like Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Michael Jackson, and Bob Marley.


Many tribute songs have been written for someone famous who passed away. You’ve probably heard many tribute songs without even realizing that they were created for a famous leader, politician, or celebrity. 

The naming of streets and buildings

Though much rarer than any other way to memorialize someone, sometimes streets or buildings will be named in honor of famous figures. 

Famous people who have streets or buildings named after them include Martin Luther King Jr., Peter Jennings, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendryx, and members of the Beatles.

Examples of Memorializing a Pet Who Died

Pets often become like another member of the family and their death affects loved ones in the same way as a relative’s passing. Pet memorials can be a helpful way to grieve, honor, and remember your precious furry or feathered friend.

Online pet memorials

You may not be able to erect a statue for your beloved horse or create a garden fountain to memorialize your four-legged best friend, but you can put together an online pet memorial. These web pages are perfect for connecting friends and family over the death of your pet and are especially beneficial if multiple people knew the pet that passed away.

Garden statue

If you have space in your front or back yard and a higher budget, consider purchasing or commissioning a garden statue to be crafted that resembles your pet. Along with the statue, add a plaque with their name and dates and a quote or saying that reminds you of them.


Consider hiring an artist and commissioning a painting to be done of your pet. Artists will happily turn your favorite photograph of your best friend into a painting that you can place anywhere from your bedroom wall to the mantle above your fireplace.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.


Keepsake jewelry is widely available to help you keep the memory of your pet close. Some jewelry items contain a picture of your pet while others you can use to house a small portion of their ashes if they were cremated.

Holiday decor

If you want to remember your pet’s presence especially around the holidays, keep them close by creating a memorial ornament or another piece of seasonal decor you can put up around the house. Custom ornaments usually incorporate your pet’s picture and have their name and dates inscribed on the front or back.

Popular Examples of Memorialization

Here are some popular examples of when famous people were memorialized by the public.

Kobe Bryant, NBA star

Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died in a tragic helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, and the entire world went into mourning. Impromptu memorials were immediately set up around the world from Los Angeles and New York to India, the Philippines, and Australia. Several permanent memorials were created in the days following the tragedy, such as a mural in Los Angeles.

Robin Williams, actor and comedian

When Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014, the world was left brokenhearted. For many, a bright light had just flickered out, leaving in its wake a sense of emptiness. Memorials popped up for the famous comedian from coast to coast. Several permanent memorial sites centered around places Williams had been, such as the Good Will Hunting bench.

Steve Jobs, Apple cofounder

On October 5, 2011, billionaire Steve Jobs passed away as a result of complications from pancreatic cancer. One of the greatest visionaries of all time, he was known around the world for his contributions to revolutionizing the tech world. While memorials popped up around the world soon after his death, permanent memorials were also erected, such as the very first statue of Jobs that was commissioned by the founder of a software company in Budapest, Hungary.

Diana, Princess of Wales

Diana, Princess of Wales, passed away after a tragic car accident on August 31, 1997. Her death left the entire world in shock, and memorials were created around the world almost instantly. Now, years later, memorials continue to be created in her honor to keep her memory alive. There are also several permanent memorials, such as the Diana Fountain, that you can visit in her honor.

Honoring People After Death

Memorializing a person is an excellent way to remember their life and legacy long after they are gone from the world. Whether you create a temporary or permanent memorial, do it solo, or ask a friend to help you out, memorializing a loved one or friend is a healing process that keeps the memory of a loved one close.

  1. “Memorialize.” Word, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2021. etymonline.com

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