\ ˈhərs How to pronounce hearse (audio) \

Definition of hearse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an elaborate framework erected over a coffin or tomb to which memorial verses or epitaphs are attached
b : a triangular candelabra for 15 candles used especially at Tenebrae
2a archaic : coffin
b obsolete : bier sense 1
3 : a vehicle for conveying the dead to the grave


hearsed; hearsing

Definition of hearse (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a archaic : to place on or in a hearse
b : to convey in a hearse
2 : bury

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Synonyms & Antonyms for hearse

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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The Evolution of Hearse

Medieval French used the word herce for a harrow, a farm tool used to break up and smooth the soil. Herce was also applied to a triangular frame that was used for holding candles. Herce was borrowed into Middle English as herse. In those days, a large and decorative framework might be raised over the tomb or coffin of an honored person. Because this framework was often decorated with candles, the word herse was applied to it. A series of slightly changed meanings led to the use of herse (Modern English hearse) for a platform for a corpse or coffin, and from that to a vehicle to carry the dead. The verb hearse emerged late in the 16th century.

Examples of hearse in a Sentence

Verb the cemetery hearses an average of eight bodies a week
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Video of her funeral procession showed a hearse with her picture in front and a convoy of vehicles driving out of a hospital. Helen Regan, CNN, "Myanmar military warns protesters could 'suffer loss of life' ahead of planned mass strike," 21 Feb. 2021 Mourners lined the entrance to a cemetery in the city as the hearse carrying her body arrived and was taken to a crematorium where more people had gathered. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Myanmar pro-democracy protesters call for national strike," 21 Feb. 2021 Strangers sometimes offer to fill up the hearse’s gas tank. Adriana Gallardo, ProPublica, "Pistols, a Hearse and Trucks Playing Chicken: Why Some Voters Felt Harassed and Intimidated at the Polls," 4 Dec. 2020 Earlier in the week, a hearse adorned with pro-Trump messaging harassed a Biden campaign bus and chased it through Texas. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Biden calls Trump supporters honking during his speech 'ugly folks'," 31 Oct. 2020 Pearce doesn’t know whether or not the hearse deterred people from voting. Adriana Gallardo, ProPublica, "Pistols, a Hearse and Trucks Playing Chicken: Why Some Voters Felt Harassed and Intimidated at the Polls," 4 Dec. 2020 But suddenly, the hearse carrying Mr. Maradona’s coffin left from a back door of the presidential palace accompanied by a caravan of police motorcycles. Manuela Andreoni, New York Times, "Argentina, and Latin America, Mourn Maradona as a Man of the People," 26 Nov. 2020 The funeral director led me into the empty chapel: the coffin was on a bier near a door, where, on the other side, the hearse was parked and waiting. David Gilbert, The New Yorker, "Preparing to Spin the Wheel of Fortune," 23 Nov. 2020 Franklin Park Boy Scout Troop 158 helped carry dozens of American flags, which were deemed unserviceable, to a hearse to be honorably disposed of through cremation at Sax-Tiedemann Funeral Home. Anna Kim, chicagotribune.com, "Franklin Park American Legion holds Veterans Day ceremony, adds names to memorial," 12 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hearse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hearse


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hearse


Middle English herse, from Anglo-French herce harrow, frame for holding candles, from Latin hirpic-, hirpex harrow

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Time Traveler for hearse

Time Traveler

The first known use of hearse was in the 14th century

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Statistics for hearse

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hearse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hearse. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for hearse



English Language Learners Definition of hearse

: a large car that is used for carrying a coffin to a grave


\ ˈhərs How to pronounce hearse (audio) \

Kids Definition of hearse

: a vehicle for carrying a dead person to the grave

More from Merriam-Webster on hearse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hearse

Nglish: Translation of hearse for Spanish Speakers

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