: a combustible heap for burning a dead body as a funeral rite
broadly : a pile of material to be burned
a pyre of dead leaves

Examples of pyre in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The father and son wound up on a cannabis farm in Mendocino County, where they were shot, beheaded, and then incinerated on a pile of burning tires, with live chickens thrown into the pyre. Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 At the last minute, an eagle would be released from the pyre, presumably glad to escape the flames. Mary Beard, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 One of the most moving stories in mythology is the tale of the phoenix, an extraordinary bird that emerges from a flaming pyre with its colorful feathers even more beautiful than before. Carlos Mota, ELLE Decor, 7 July 2023 What happened on the imperial pyre was crucial to the emperor’s apotheosis. Mary Beard, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 Hercules, for example, after a life as a mortal strongman, was deified on his funeral pyre. Mary Beard, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 Yes! ‘Tis our day, my neighbors to light these pyres and feast by these mighty waters! Lauren Daley, BostonGlobe.com, 23 June 2023 In this case, the pyre was carefully sealed beneath a raft of two dozen bricks, arranged in four rows. Franz Lidz, New York Times, 25 Mar. 2023 This, coupled with the practice of sati, in which the widow is expected to throw herself on her husband’s funeral pyre to perish alongside him, are ancient Hindu beliefs that boil down to one thing: A woman’s life is meaningless without a husband. Radhika Menon, ELLE, 9 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin pyra, from Greek, from pyr fire — more at fire

First Known Use

1587, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pyre was in 1587

Dictionary Entries Near pyre

Cite this Entry

“Pyre.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pyre. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a heap of wood for burning a dead body
also : a pile of material to be burned

More from Merriam-Webster on pyre

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