In the US the reception following a funeral is now often called a “wake” although traditionally that term was applied to the period of staying up at night watching over the dead body before the funeral. Since historically “wake” has been used in many broad senses involving celebration—not always necessarily at night—it’s not surprising to find it being extended even further in this way. But if you want to sound more sophisticated, use the term “reception” for the gathering after a funeral.

Urban legend has it that the term has some connection with the possibility that the deceased might “wake up.” To the contrary, it’s the mourners who do the waking at a wake, not the corpse.

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