- 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
- 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 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.