"magnificent tomb," early 15c., from Latin mausoleum, from Greek Mausoleion, name of the massive marble tomb adorned with sculpture built 353 B.C.E. at Halicarnassus (Greek city in Asia Minor) for Mausolos, Persian satrap who made himself king of Caria. It was built by his wife (and sister), Artemisia. Counted among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, it was destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages. General sense of "any stately burial-place" (now usually one designed to contain a number of tombs) is from c. 1600. Related: Mausolean.
mausoleum at Agra, India, built by Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, from Persian, perhaps "the best of buildings," with second element, mahal, from Urdu mahall "private apartments; summer house or palace," from Arabic halla "to lodge." But some authorities hold that the name of the mausoleum is a corruption of the name of the woman interred in it, Mumtaz (in Persian, literally "chosen one") Mahal, who died in 1631. Persian taj is literally "crown, diadem, ornamental headdress," but here denoting an object of distinguished excellence. Figurative use of Taj Mahal in English as a name denoting anything surpassing or excellent is attested from 1895.