\ 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 In an emotional tribute, fellow firemen lined the streets Wednesday as the hearse carrying his body passed. Meg Oliver, CBS News, "Firefighter killed saving 2 others in Massachusetts house fire," 13 Nov. 2019 If weather conditions do not permit safe flying, the hearse will continue the journey by road under heavy security. Washington Post, "AP Explains: A look at Franco and why he is being exhumed," 24 Oct. 2019 When the hearse carrying Chirac drove by, the crowd broke into applause. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Chirac gets full military honors as France bids him farewell," 30 Sep. 2019 Motorcycle officers then led a procession as the hearse was driven to the county coroner’s office. BostonGlobe.com, "Shootout kills California officer, suspect," 13 Aug. 2019 Motorcycle officers then led a procession as the hearse was driven to the county coroner’s office. Time, "California Highway Patrol Officer Killed After Man Allegedly Opened Fire During Traffic Stop," 13 Aug. 2019 After the service, police and other well-wishers lined up outside as the hearse pulled away from the church. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Fallen Colorado State Patrol trooper remembered as “knight in shining armor” during service," 21 June 2019 In scenes broadcast live on television it was then carried by the family, first to a hearse and then a helicopter, which took it for reburial at a quiet public cemetery at El Pardo, on the outskirts of the capital where his wife is buried. The Economist, "Franco’s exhumation is both historical duty and electoral stunt," 24 Oct. 2019 And what better way to deliver caskets than in a hearse? oregonlive, "Coffin Cruisers Hearse Club: Wanna drive something different? Get a hearse," 18 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

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Hearse.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hearse?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=h&file=hearse01. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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