\ 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 But the most poignant part of the celebration of Ali’s life was a motorcade — his hearse leading the way — through the streets of the city. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Mitch McConnell, Muhammad Ali's death and gay marriage are the top stories of the decade," 31 Dec. 2019 So do Patriot Guard Riders, bikers there to escort the hearse up to Idaho. Matt Farwell, The New Republic, "My Own Private Decade From Hell," 30 Dec. 2019 Sullivan’s casket will then be escorted and placed inside the hearse. Nick Powell, Houston Chronicle, "Nassau Bay residents asked to ‘line the streets’ in remembrance of fallen sergeant," 18 Dec. 2019 Outside the church, mourners lined both sides of the sidewalk after the service, gripping each other as pallbearers carried Rett’s coffin to a waiting hearse. Zoe Greenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Mourners celebrate the life of Holy Cross rower killed in Florida crash," 22 Jan. 2020 The body of a lawyer who represented a key witness in a major Dutch organized crime trial is carried into a hearse after he was gunned down in Amsterdam, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Outrage at slaying of witness’s lawyer in Dutch gang trial," 18 Sep. 2019 Reuters reported that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the funeral along with dozens of firefighters, who saluted Keaton's casket and hearse. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "A toddler’s dad died battling wildfires. The 1-year-old boy was awarded his bravery medal," 2 Jan. 2020 Depending on the weather, it was being taken by helicopter or hearse to Mingorrubio cemetery where his wife is buried, a 57-kilometer (35-mile) drive away. Washington Post, "Spain begins exhuming late dictator Gen. Franco’s remains," 24 Oct. 2019 Let’s fire up the Packard V-12 hearse and take a spin down Memory (0001 Cemetery) Lane... Patrick Sauer, Smithsonian, "The Cultural History of ‘The Addams Family’," 12 Oct. 2019

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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hearse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hearse. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for hearse


How to pronounce hearse (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on hearse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hearse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hearse

Spanish Central: Translation of hearse

Nglish: Translation of hearse for Spanish Speakers

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