1. A vehicle for conveying a coffin to a church or cemetery.
2. Christianity A triangular candelabrum used at Tenebrae during Holy Week.
3. A framelike structure over a coffin or tomb on which to hang epitaphs.
[Middle English herse, a harrow-shaped structure for holding candles over a coffin, from Old French herce, from Medieval Latin hercia, from Latin hirpex, hirpic-, harrow, probably from Oscan hirpus, wolf (alluding to its teeth).]
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Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.