hearse

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: 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
2
a
archaic : coffin
b
obsolete : bier sense 1
3
: a vehicle for conveying the dead to the grave

hearse

2 of 2

verb

hearsed; hearsing

transitive verb

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

Did you know?

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
They were stretched cars and converted hearses with giant fiberglass chickens attached to the roof of the vehicles. Katie Wiseman, The Indianapolis Star, 26 Apr. 2024 Residents lined Fritch’s main road, Broadway Street, to pay their respects as a series of fire trucks, police cars and motorcycles escorted a silver hearse. Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, New York Times, 6 Mar. 2024 On Sunday, residents of Reading lined the streets to celebrate the city’s 275th anniversary with a parade that featured a motorcycle hearse carrying Stoneman Willie, reported Reuters. Kirsty Hatcher, Peoplemag, 5 Oct. 2023 Image Members of his team described difficulty persuading a church, a cemetery and even a hearse to take part in the burial, saying that the authorities wanted to prevent Mr. Navalny’s funeral from becoming a flashpoint for dissent. Valerie Hopkins, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2024 The tenant also had an inoperable hearse in the backyard of the home. Sarah Moon, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 Melania Trump and her father went into the black SUV waiting for them, just behind the hearse. Kristina Webb, USA TODAY, 18 Jan. 2024 Now, he’s charged February 28, 2024 12:49 PM Read Next Funeral home owner kept body in hearse for nearly 2 years, CO cops say. Jennifer Rodriguez, Kansas City Star, 25 Mar. 2024 Some of the remains were found in temporary urns — black plastic boxes — in the home’s crawl space, a moving truck and an inoperable hearse parked in the backyard, Denver Police Cmdr. Christine Pelisek, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2024
Verb
Prince Philip had been highly involved in planning the arrangements, down to a customized Land Rover hearse and the music including the Royal Navy Hymn, a nod to his military roots. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 9 Apr. 2024 Then, as preparations for Friday's funeral began, funeral homes and hearse drivers allegedly received threats. Nick Spicer, NPR, 1 Mar. 2024 Funeral for Melania Trump's mother today; Palm Beach warns of traffic around church Her casket — carrying the woman whose cooking former President Trump credited with making his youngest son 6 feet, 7 inches tall — arrived in a black Cadillac hearse Thursday morning. Kristina Webb, USA TODAY, 18 Jan. 2024 All of this is performed in a 135,000-square-foot factory in the dankest recesses of Lima, Ohio, by S&S Superior, a company that has been building hearses for 71 years. John Phillips, Car and Driver, 26 Aug. 2023 Meanwhile, most ambulance services were operated by morticians, because hearses were roomy enough for people to lie flat. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 12 July 2023 On Thursday, two hearses carrying the bodies of Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown crossed the international bridge to Brownsville, where the remains were handed over to U.S. authorities, according to The Associated Press. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, 10 Mar. 2023 Organ donor's body saves driver as crash leaves hearse dangling over canyon Organ donor's body saves driver as crash leav... CBS News, 18 Apr. 2023 Detectives and evidence technicians remained in the home collecting evidence late Tuesday, long after hearses had left the driveway. Doha Madani, NBC News, 20 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hearse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near hearse

Cite this Entry

“Hearse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hearse. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

hearse

noun
ˈhərs
: a vehicle for conveying the dead to the grave
Etymology

Noun

Middle English herse "a triangular frame for holding candles," from early French herce "frame for holding candles, harrow," from Latin hirpex "harrow"

Word Origin
An early form of 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 similar in shape to the frame of a harrow and was used for holding candles. Herce was borrowed into English as hearse, and both the literal sense of "harrow" and the extended sense of "a frame for holding candles" were kept. 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 hearse was applied to it. A series of slightly changed meanings led to the use of hearse for a platform for a corpse or coffin, and from that to a vehicle to carry the dead to the grave.

More from Merriam-Webster on hearse

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