A pallbearer is one of several funeral participants who helps carry the casket of a deceased person from a religious or memorial service or viewing either directly to a cemetery or mausoleum, or to and from the hearse which does so.

A pall is the heavy cloth that is draped over a coffin. Hence the metaphoric term "casting a pall" on a gathering of people, by announcing bad news to the group. By metonymy, the term "pallbearer" is used to signify someone who bears the coffin which the pall covers.

Some traditionsFact|date=August 2007 distinguish between these two roles, with "pallbearer" being a ceremonial position, just carrying a tip of the pall or a cord attached to it, while "casketbearers" do the actual heavy lifting and carrying. There may otherwise be only pallbearers in the literal sense while the casket is on an animal or on an animal-drawn or motorized vehicle.

Pallbearers are usually associated in an intimate manner with the deceased before their death, though this is not always the case.

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  • pallbearer — pall bear*er (p[add]l b[^a]r*[ e]r), n. One of those who attend the coffin at a funeral; so called from the pall being formerly carried by them. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pallbearer — (n.) 1707, from PALL (Cf. pall) (n.) + agent noun of BEAR (Cf. bear) (v.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • pallbearer — [pôl′ber΄ər] n. [ PALL2 + BEARER: formerly, one who held the edges of the pall] one of the persons who attend or bear the coffin at a funeral …   English World dictionary

  • pallbearer — UK [ˈpɔːlˌbeərə(r)] / US [ˈpɔlˌberər] noun [countable] Word forms pallbearer : singular pallbearer plural pallbearers someone who helps to carry a coffin at a funeral …   English dictionary

  • pallbearer — [[t]pɔ͟ːlbeərə(r)[/t]] pallbearers N COUNT At a funeral, a pallbearer is a person who helps to carry the coffin or who walks beside it …   English dictionary

  • pallbearer — noun Etymology: 2pall Date: 1707 a person who helps to carry the coffin at a funeral; also a member of the escort or honor guard of the coffin who does not actually help to carry it …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pallbearer — /pawl bair euhr/, n. one of several persons who carry or attend the coffin at a funeral. [1700 10; PALL1 + BEARER] * * * …   Universalium

  • pallbearer — noun a) One who carries a corner of the pall over a coffin or casket. b) One called upon to carry or bear the casket at a funeral …   Wiktionary

  • pallbearer — pall|bear|er [ˈpo:lˌbeərə US ˈpo:lˌberər] n someone who helps to carry a ↑coffin at a funeral …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • pallbearer — pall|bear|er [ pɔl,berər ] noun count someone who helps to carry a COFFIN at a funeral …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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