hearse

noun
\ 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

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

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 The hearse was built to cruise at 14 mph, because that is the traditional speed of a funeral procession. A.j. Baime, WSJ, "The 1939 Hearse That Refuses to Die," 25 Sep. 2018 The Latest on services for Sen. John McCain (all times local): 9:30 a.m. Several firefighters are standing on top of a firetruck on an overpass above a Phoenix freeway saluting a motorcade with a hearse carrying Sen. John McCain's casket. Fox News, "The Latest: Firefighters salute, mourners hold McCain signs," 30 Aug. 2018 The Henney Motor Company of Freeport, Ill., built hearses out of Packards for many years during the middle of the 20th century. A.j. Baime, WSJ, "The 1939 Hearse That Refuses to Die," 25 Sep. 2018 And Fuad Cochinwala, president of the Islamic Center of Greater Houston, quietly worked to move the casket outside to a waiting hearse. Todd C. Frankel And Brittney Martin, BostonGlobe.com, "At a Texas mosque, the community says goodbye to a girl and the dreams she represented," 21 May 2018 After the funeral, the Honor Guard again will carry the coffin back to the hearse. Dawn Rhodes, chicagotribune.com, "For the fallen Cmdr. Bauer, Chicago prepares for a somber ritual — the police funeral," 16 Feb. 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

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

3 Jan 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 \

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

Comments on hearse

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