harass

verb

ha·​rass hə-ˈras How to pronounce harass (audio)
ˈher-əs,
ˈha-rəs How to pronounce harass (audio)
harassed; harassing; harasses

transitive verb

1
a
: exhaust, fatigue
I have been harassed with the toil of verseWilliam Wordsworth
b(1)
: to annoy persistently
was harassing his younger brother
(2)
: to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct
was being harassed by her classmates
claims that the police were unfairly harassing him
2
: to worry and impede by repeated raids
harassed the enemy
harasser noun
harassment noun
Choose the Right Synonym for harass

worry, annoy, harass, harry, plague, pester, tease mean to disturb or irritate by persistent acts.

worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation.

pursued a policy of worrying the enemy

annoy implies disturbing one's composure or peace of mind by intrusion, interference, or petty attacks.

you're doing that just to annoy me

harass implies petty persecutions or burdensome demands that exhaust one's nervous or mental power.

harassed on all sides by creditors

harry may imply heavy oppression or maltreatment.

the strikers had been harried by thugs

plague implies a painful and persistent affliction.

plagued all her life by poverty

pester stresses the repetition of petty attacks.

constantly pestered with trivial complaints

tease suggests an attempt to break down one's resistance or rouse to wrath.

children teased the dog

Examples of harass in a Sentence

She was constantly harassed by the other students. He claims that he is being unfairly harassed by the police.
Recent Examples on the Web Biden has assiduously courted India as a bulwark against China, even though the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has curbed speech, harassed opposition leaders, fanned religious grievances, and allegedly killed dissidents abroad. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan, a U.S. partner, and has harassed U.S. warships in the South China Sea, including destroyers from San Diego. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Feb. 2024 Mark Brender, a satellite journalism pioneer, noted that reporters on the ground can be harassed and blocked. William J. Broad, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 The Wolfpack harassed the Fighting Irish (18-6, 8-5) into missing nine of their first 10 shots and committing seven early turnovers. Curt Rallo, USA TODAY, 16 Feb. 2024 In a survey of food-allergic people in which 93 percent were children, nearly a quarter reported being bullied, teased, or harassed for their allergies. Betsy Andrews, Saveur, 14 Feb. 2024 The suspect was allegedly harassing a woman who was dining out with Taneja, according to an incident report cited by WUSA 9. Samira Asma-Sadeque, Peoplemag, 14 Feb. 2024 Bukele has also been accused of harassing and even detaining journalists, union organizers and political opponents. TIME, 5 Feb. 2024 Public health employees and other health care workers have reported being threatened and harassed for doing their jobs in addition to grappling with an incessant workload. Ciara McCarthy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'harass.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

French harasser, from Middle French, from harer to set a dog on, from Old French hare, interjection used to incite dogs, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German hier here — more at here

First Known Use

1617, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of harass was in 1617

Dictionary Entries Near harass

Cite this Entry

“Harass.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harass. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

harass

verb
ha·​rass hə-ˈras How to pronounce harass (audio) ˈhar-əs How to pronounce harass (audio)
1
a
: to tire out by continual efforts
b
: to annoy persistently
c
: to create an unpleasant situation for by unwelcome verbal or physical conduct
2
: to worry with repeated attacks
harassed the enemy
harasser noun
harassment noun

Legal Definition

harass

transitive verb
: to subject persistently and wrongfully to annoying, offensive, or troubling behavior
a collection agency harassing a debtor
see also sexual harassment
harasser noun
harassment noun
Etymology

Middle French harasser to exhaust, fatigue, from harer to set a dog on, from Old French hare, interjection used to incite dogs

More from Merriam-Webster on harass

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