\ 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 Zimbabwe's Vice President Kembo Mohadi was seen at the Singapore Casket funeral parlor Tuesday afternoon, and police escorted a hearse from the building Wednesday morning to go to the airport. Syawalludin Zain, USA TODAY, "Robert Mugabe's body returns home to Zimbabwe for mourning, burial," 11 Sep. 2019 The procession of six hearses with police and firefighters serving as pallbearers drove to city hall where Mayor William Mortensen and other city officials joined the caravan, with people lining the route to pay their respects. Steven Goode, courant.com, "Medical examiner makes case to exhume unidentified bodies from the Hartford Circus Fire," 29 Aug. 2019 In November 2017, a black vintage hearse trundled across the verdant Australian sheep country west of Sydney toward the shimmering deserts of the outback. David Maurice Smith, Smithsonian, "A 42,000-Year-Old Man Finally Goes Home," 23 Aug. 2019 Members of the Kennedy family and a hearse arrived at the church shortly before 11 a.m., when the funeral Mass began. Joshua Miller, BostonGlobe.com, "Kennedy family gathers for funeral of 22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill on Cape Cod," 5 Aug. 2019 Dozens of officers stood in salute outside the hospital late Monday as Moye’s body was loaded into a hearse and taken to the coroner’s office. Los Angeles Times, "Riverside shooting suspect had a long criminal history, records show," 13 Aug. 2019 Crowds on the street applauded as the hearse drove up with his casket, in gratitude to the fallen officer. Fox News, "Italian police officer allegedly killed by American teens remembered as hero," 30 July 2019 Highway patrol pulls over hearse: in Las Vegas high-occupancy vehicle lane. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Drivers, you're merging all wrong: Being polite is causing traffic jams, experts say," 23 July 2019 Pictures on the Perches Funeral Homes Facebook page showed two lines of hearses parked at the memorial site. Darran Simon, CNN, "22 hearses make a final procession to deliver flowers to the El Paso shooting memorial site," 19 Aug. 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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Statistics for hearse

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for hearse

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

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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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