Student Dictionary

One entry found for hearse.
Main Entry: hearse
Pronunciation: primarystresshschwars
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English herse "a triangular frame for holding candles," from early French herce "frame for holding candles, harrow," from Latin hirpex "harrow"
: a vehicle for conveying the dead to the grave
Word History An early form of 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 similar in shape to the frame of a harrow and was used for holding candles. Herce was borrowed into English as hearse, and both the literal sense of "harrow" and the extended sense of "a frame for holding candles" were kept. 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 hearse was applied to it. A series of slightly changed meanings led to the use of hearse for a platform for a corpse or coffin, and from that to a vehicle to carry the dead to the grave.

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