\ 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

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 Ahead of the ceremony, Kelsey led a hearse pulled by three black horses through Petts Wood. Daniela Avila, PEOPLE.com, 20 Apr. 2022 Enlarge / Health care workers wearing personal protective equipment transport the body of a deceased patient onto a hearse outside the mortuary at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 8 Apr. 2022 Police vehicles escorted a hearse carrying Reynolds’s body to Leominster, passing sidewalks filled with residents who came out to honor him. Nick Stoico, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Apr. 2022 After the service, Cottongim's body traveled to Cave Hill Cemetery in a silver hearse accompanied by hundreds of police cars and flashing lights. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, 22 Dec. 2021 Two of the victims were employees for a funeral home and were loading flowers in a hearse when they were shot, reports say. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 21 Dec. 2021 The feature drama Angel Flight, also launching in 2023, follows a group of professionals who work as international hearse repatriation experts, a job that involves sending people who have died abroad back to their homeland. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Mar. 2022 It could have been placed in the baggage car of a train carrying his family, driven by hearse, or both. Kori Rumore, chicagotribune.com, 20 Jan. 2022 There is this cycle of taking a patient to a hospital and then the hearse comes to fetch another body. Matt Rivers, CNN, 1 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Once on the freeway, the escort was assumed by a veterans motorcycle organization, in front and back of the white Cadillac hearse all the way to Hull’s Walnut Creek Chapel. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near hearse

hearsay evidence



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Statistics for hearse

Last Updated

27 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hearse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hearse. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hearse


\ 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

Nglish: Translation of hearse for Spanish Speakers


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