\ˈhərs \

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 2

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

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


the cemetery hearses an average of eight bodies a week

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The mourners piled into about 20 cars and followed the hearse about 30 minutes south to Mount Hope Cemetery. Paige Fry, chicagotribune.com, "Family bids farewell to man killed by Chicago police, waits for body-camera footage," 18 June 2018 The National Museum of Funeral History has been offering funeral history enthusiasts the chance to learn about the difference between caskets and coffins, brush up on hearses through history, and learn about funeral rites through the ages. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, "WATCH: Road Trip to the South’s National Museum of Funeral Homes," 26 June 2018 The platoon sergeant ordered the soldiers to move into formation next to the hearse. Greg Jaffe, Anchorage Daily News, "Imperfect answers: A JBER soldier was killed in action, and his parents ask why," 27 May 2018 At sunrise, 36 guns fired for the death of President Abraham Lincoln as hearse is prepared to take his body to Statehouse. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "The epic journey of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train," 30 Apr. 2018 Dykes too old to ride, along with a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence in a nun’s habit and powdered face, followed in a hearse-like sport utility vehicle. Sam Whiting, SFChronicle.com, "On the road with Dykes on Bikes in a pre-Pride run," 14 June 2018 The hearse left the Palace just after 9 a.m. on a gun carriage led by horses and flanked by royal guards wearing bearskin hats. Olivia Blair, Town & Country, "Remembering Princess Diana's Funeral 20 Years Later," 9 Aug. 2017 Fox 5 reports there were police cars in the parking lot as Hicks' casket was carried out of the church and placed in the funeral hearse. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "'All hell broke loose.' Priest throws family out of church before their mom's funeral," 2 July 2018 Its first major exhibition was a display of historical hearses, which can still be seen at the museum today. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, "WATCH: Road Trip to the South’s National Museum of Funeral Homes," 26 June 2018

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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Statistics for hearse

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Time Traveler for hearse

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

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More Definitions for hearse



English Language Learners Definition of hearse

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


\ˈhərs \

Kids Definition of hearse

: a vehicle for carrying a dead person to the grave

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Comments on hearse

What made you want to look up hearse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


full of whispering sounds

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