hearse

noun
\ 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

hearse

verb
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

bury, entomb, inhume, inter, lay, put away, tomb

Antonyms: Verb

disinter, exhume, unearth

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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

The hearse continued to St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, where Chase was privately laid to rest. Doug Maccash, nola.com, "Remembering Leah Chase’s second-line parade in New Orleans," 13 June 2019 The choir sang Gregorian chants prior to casket arrival, and when the Cadillac hearse appeared, led by three New Orleans Police motorcycles, Gayle Benson was escorted down the steps by Aymond. Michael Democker, NOLA.com, "Watch Saints fans sing outside the visitation for Tom Benson," 21 Mar. 2018 In Salt Lake City, firefighters from the two agencies Burchett worked for will escort the hearse to the mortuary. Fox News, "Procession set for Utah firefighter killed in California," 15 Aug. 2018 According to the Houston Chronicle, Bush's casket, draped in an American flag, was escorted by six pallbearers into a hearse headed to Ellington Field. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "All the Details on George H. W. Bush's Funeral," 6 Dec. 2018 Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press On Thursday, law-enforcement officers in cars and on motorcycles led a hearse carrying Sgt. Jon Kamp, WSJ, "In California Shooting, Sheriff’s Sergeant Made ‘Ultimate Sacrifice’ Trying to Stop Gunman," 8 Nov. 2018 With patrol cars in short supply, an officer recently had to hitch a ride to a crime scene with a passing hearse that was on its way to pick up the dead bodies. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, "In Latin America, Awash in Crime, Citizens Impose Their Own Brutal Justice," 6 Dec. 2018 Gregory Gonzalez drove a black hearse around the Fort Worth Convention Center — where the Texas Democrats were holding their biennial state convention — Friday afternoon. Anna M. Tinsley, star-telegram, "Republicans to Texas Democrats: RIP," 22 June 2018 The couple has since added to this touching scene, upping the ante by including a glowing gargoyle, a vintage hearse with a beheading theme, a crone cradling a precociously horrifying popeyed infant. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Welcome to the Neighborhood, Jeff Koons!," 31 Oct. 2014

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

Noun

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

Verb

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hearse

Noun

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

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Statistics for hearse

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hearse

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

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More Definitions for hearse

hearse

noun

English Language Learners Definition of hearse

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

hearse

noun
\ 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hearse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hearse

Spanish Central: Translation of hearse

Nglish: Translation of hearse for Spanish Speakers

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