Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A stand on which a corpse or a coffin containing a corpse is placed before burial.
  • n. A coffin along with its stand: followed the bier to the cemetery.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a litter to transport the corpse of a dead person
  • n. a platform or stand where a body or coffin is placed
  • n. A count of forty threads in the warp or chain of woollen cloth.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A handbarrow or portable frame on which a corpse is placed or borne to the grave.
  • n. A count of forty threads in the warp or chain of woolen cloth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A frame, usually of wood, on which to carry a load; a barrow; a litter; a stretcher.
  • n. Specifically A framework on which a corpse, or the coffin containing it, is laid before burial; also, one on which it is carried to the grave by hand.
  • n. A count of forty threads in the warp or chain of woolen cloth. Imp. Dict.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a coffin along with its stand
  • n. a stand to support a corpse or a coffin prior to burial

Etymologies

Alteration (influenced by French bière, coffin) of Middle English ber, from Old English bēr.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English bere, from Old English bēr, (West Saxon) bǣr, from Proto-Germanic *bērō (cf. East Frisian beere, Dutch baar, German Bahre), from *ƀeranan 'to bear'. More at bear. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • 'Friend,' whispered he, 'for charity conduct us to some safe place where we may withdraw this bier from the sacrilegious eye of curiosity.'

    The Scottish Chiefs

  • There may be fifty or sixty of these dents to one inch, for weaving very fine linen; usually there are about twenty, which gives a "bier" -- a counting out of forty warp-threads to each inch.

    Home Life in Colonial Days

  • Laid out on the bier was the headless body of Agnès La Grange.

    Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile

  • But the word _‘ash_, or _‘ayish_ does not differ importantly from the word _na‘sh_, in Hebrew "assembly," in Arabic "bier," which has been the word used by the Arabs from remote antiquity to denote the four bright stars in the hind-quarters of the Great Bear; those which form the body of the Plough.

    The Astronomy of the Bible An Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical References of Holy Scripture

  • Confusion and fear in his heart, he moved forward reluctantly and saw that the face on the bier was his own.

    Lord of the Silver Bow

  • The body is immediately wrapped up in the skin or clothing worn during life, and in the course of a day or two, it is placed upon the wirkatti or bier, which is made of branches crossed so as to form the radii of a circle, an examination is then entered upon as to the cause of death, in the following manner.

    An account of the manners and customs of the Aborigines and the state of their relations with Europeans, by Edward John Eyre

  • The bier is a rude framework of poles bound with ropes of hide.

    First footsteps in East Africa

  • The bier was a shallow wooden tray, carried upon a light and weak wooden frame.

    Eothen

  • But as the train drew nigh, she beheld a sumptuous bier, covered with black velvet, and on it lay a warrior, as if taking his repose: he lay in his armor, with his helmet on his head, and his sword in his hand, as one who had never been conquered, and around the bier were the escutcheons of the house of Hinojosa.

    The Alhambra

  • The form on the bier was a little fuzzy, as though surrounded by heat shimmer.

    Water Sleeps

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