The type of construction is not specified by the name. The common dakhma or dokhma (from Middle Persian dakhmag) originally denoted any place for the dead. Similarly, in the medieval texts of Zoroastrian tradition, the word astodan appears, but today that word denotes an ossuary. In the Iranian provinces of Yazd and Kerman, the technical term isdeme or dema. In India, the term doongerwadi came into use after a tower was constructed on a hill of that name. The word dagdah appears in the texts of both India and Iran but, in 20th-century India, signified the lowest grade of temple fire
The term "Tower of Silence" is a neologism attributed to Robert Murphy, who, in 1832, was a translator working for the British colonial government in India. The phrase is not the literal meaning of "Avestan dakhma" as is suggested by encyclopedia Britannica. While the stem dakhma- does exist in the Avestan language, its meaning there is not conclusively established. The contexts in which it appears indicate a negative connotation and do not signify a construction of any kind.