Definition of hearse in English:



  • A vehicle for conveying the coffin at a funeral.

    • ‘He insisted the silver limousine with a private registration number did not look like a funeral car unless it was travelling behind a hearse.’
    • ‘As light drizzle began to fall on a dark London night, six pallbearers, from a firm of undertakers carefully lifted the coffin from the hearse.’
    • ‘According to many villagers, there were 8 ambulances and four morgue hearses.’
    • ‘These services would include the hire of a hearse, coffin costs, flowers and embalming.’
    • ‘A horse-drawn hearse took the coffin from the house to the church.’
    • ‘And whereas traffic wardens currently turn a blind eye to hearses and wedding cars parking on the double yellow lines, they will have no choice but to issue tickets in the future.’
    • ‘Fire trucks, ambulances, hearses and the vehicles of law enforcement officers on duty are also allowed unhindered passage, but not most do not realize that either, or do not care.’
    • ‘At 12.30 pm the bearer party will place the coffin in the hearse and five minutes later the procession will leave for Windsor.’
    • ‘The research also indicates that 100 mm-high humps pose a greater possibility of pollution, property and vehicle damage and grounding, specifically to buses, emergency vehicles and hearses.’
    • ‘As the hearse and police cars drove down the drive towards the chapel, the rainy night air was lit up with flashes from Press cameras.’
    • ‘A horse-drawn hearse carried the coffin from the Bulldog pub in Walcot, which is run by Kevin's brother, Geoff.’
    • ‘At the time of the funeral the bones are placed in chests of cypress wood, which are conveyed in hearses; there is one chest for each tribe.’
    • ‘Funeral homes' hearses came by, and word of mouth spread as residents came to see what was going on.’
    • ‘In a few moments they carry the coffin to the hearse, and place it inside for the trip to the cemetery.’
    • ‘These included a government official and a driver of a hearse conveying a corpse.’
    • ‘Just in case you were wondering, motorcycles and hearses are exempt from the four person rule.’
    • ‘After the mass, a small number of mourners became upset with the media attention and attempted to block photographers from taking pictures of the coffins as they lay in hearses outside the church.’
    • ‘Cars can get over the ramps fine but ambulances and long vehicles like hearses have trouble with the ramps.’
    • ‘Some smugglers even use wedding cars and funeral hearses as cover.’
    • ‘After the National Anthem, the Bearer Party places the coffin in the hearse.’


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French herce harrow, frame, from Latin hirpex a kind of large rake, from Oscan hirpus wolf (with reference to the teeth). The earliest recorded sense in English is ‘latticework canopy placed over the coffin (whilst in church) of a distinguished person’, but this probably arose from the late Middle English sense ‘triangular frame (shaped like the ancient harrow) for carrying candles at certain services’. The current sense dates from the mid 17th century.