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Funeral carriage


From Middle English herse, hers, herce, from Old French herce, from Medieval Latin hercia, from Latin herpicem, hirpex; ultimately from Oscan 𐌇𐌉𐌓𐌐𐌖𐌔 (hirpus, wolf), a reference to the teeth. The Oscan term is related to Latin hirsutus (bristly, shaggy). Doublet of hirsute.


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hearse (plural hearses)

  1. A hind (female deer) in the second year of her age.
  2. A framework of wood or metal placed over the coffin or tomb of a deceased person, and covered with a pall; also, a temporary canopy bearing wax lights and set up in a church, under which the coffin was placed during the funeral ceremonies.
  3. A grave, coffin, tomb, or sepulchral monument.
    • Ben Jonson
      underneath this marble hearse
    • Fairfax
      Beside the hearse a fruitful palm tree grows.
    • Longfellow
      who lies beneath this sculptured hearse
  4. A bier or handbarrow for conveying the dead to the grave.
    • Shakespeare
      Set down, set down your honourable load, / If honour may be shrouded in a hearse.
  5. A carriage or vehicle specially adapted or used for transporting a dead person to the place of funeral or to the grave.




hearse (third-person singular simple present hearses, present participle hearsing, simple past and past participle hearsed)

  1. (dated) To enclose in a hearse; to entomb.