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[hurs] /hɜrs/
a vehicle for conveying a dead person to the place of burial.
a triangular frame for holding candles, used at the service of Tenebrae in Holy Week.
a canopy erected over a tomb.
Origin of hearse
1250-1300; Middle English herse < Middle French herce a harrow < Latin hirpicem, accusative of hirpex
Related forms
hearselike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hearse
  • In a balmy spring breeze, eight police officers lifted the ebony coffin from the hearse and hoisted it to their shoulders.
  • The hearse followers mournfully announce that no one reads these days, can't read, won't read.
  • He stopped at an open grave and soon a hearse pulled up, leading a long line of cars.
  • They say that intellectual history travels slowly, and by hearse.
  • Three hundred mourners filed on foot behind the hearse.
  • Outside, a hearse prepared to leave, another funeral finished.
  • At last, the way was cleared, and a silver coffin was slid out of the back of the hearse.
  • Her hand rested lightly on her husband's coffin as it was taken to a waiting hearse.
  • It is not unheard of for trucks in a war zone to perform hearse duty.
  • Directs pallbearers in placement and removal of casket from hearse.
British Dictionary definitions for hearse


a vehicle, such as a specially designed car or carriage, used to carry a coffin to a place of worship and ultimately to a cemetery or crematorium
Word Origin
C14: from Old French herce, from Latin hirpex harrow
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for hearse

c.1300 (late 13c. in Anglo-Latin), "flat framework for candles, hung over a coffin," from Old French herce "long rake, harrow," from Medieval Latin hercia, from Latin hirpicem (nominative hirpex) "harrow," from Oscan hirpus "wolf," supposedly in allusion to its teeth. Or the Oscan word may be related to Latin hirsutus "shaggy, bristly." The funeral display so called because it resembled a harrow, a large rake for breaking up soil. For spelling, see head. Sense extended to other temporary frameworks built over dead people, then to "vehicle for carrying a body," a sense first recorded 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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