har·​ness | \ ˈhär-nəs How to pronounce harness (audio) \

Definition of harness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the equipment other than a yoke of a draft animal
b : gear, equipment especially : military equipment for a horse or man
2a : occupational surroundings or routine get back into harness after a vacation
b : close association ability to work in harness with others— R. P. Brooks
3a : something that resembles a harness (as in holding or fastening something) a parachute harness
b : prefabricated wiring with insulation and terminals (see terminal entry 2 sense 3) ready to be attached (as in an ignition or lighting system) a wiring harness
4 : a part of a loom which holds and controls the heddles


harnessed; harnessing; harnesses

Definition of harness (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to put a harness on harnessed the ox
b : to attach by means of a harness harness the horses to the wagon
2 : to tie together : yoke must harness his mechanical apparatus to his creative mind— Andrew Buchanan
3 : utilize harness the computer's potential

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Synonyms for harness

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of harness in a Sentence

Noun The pilot strapped himself into his harness before takeoff. Verb The horses were harnessed to the wagon. Engineers are finding new ways to harness the sun's energy to heat homes. The company is harnessing technology to provide better service to its customers. They harnessed the power of the waterfall to create electricity. harness anger to fight injustice
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the Ropes Course, customers hooked into a harness try to make their way through a second-story obstacle course. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "A look inside the new Urban Air Adventure Park in Katy," 9 Mar. 2020 When his traveling excitement is on overload, this Blue-9 slip-over harness offers security and control. CNN Money, "Traveling with your dog or cat is easy with these 15 Amazon pet essentials," 17 Dec. 2019 While incorrect harness use was the biggest risk factor, other risk factors resembled those for SIDS: infants born prematurely or at a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) and secondhand smoke exposure. Craig Canapari, New York Times, "Some Babies Sleep Better in Car Seats and Swings, but Are They Safe?," 17 Apr. 2020 Rockets launch from an adapted 747 named Cosmic Girl with an under-wing harness. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Virgin's Rocket-Launching 747 Is Ready for Takeoff," 16 Apr. 2020 Additionally, harnesses have become more common; experts recommend them to curb pulling behaviors in dogs without putting additional strain on the neck area. Elizabeth Sheldon, Country Living, "Before Adopting a New Dog, Make Sure You Have These Essentials," 15 Apr. 2020 Following the trend sparked by designer Virgil Abloh and Timothée Chalamet, several items, such as sports bras, bags and backpacks, include harness detailing. Lindsay Weinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Beyoncé Releases First Ivy Park Collection With Adidas," 17 Jan. 2020 All of the experiences will include necessary safety equipment from helmets to harnesses to hooks or lanyard carabiner clips. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "Walk with a kangaroo without visiting Australia, thanks to new Cincinnati Zoo exhibit," 7 Jan. 2020 Yupik women twine grass into comfy socks and fashion it into fibers so strong they can be used as components in dog harnesses. Clive Thompson, Smithsonian, "These Snow Goggles Demonstrate Thousands of Years of Indigenous Ingenuity," 19 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Now, however, a new design could circumvent those issues by harnessing the same principle that creates lift for airplane wings. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, "Rooftop Wind Power Might Take Off by Using Key Principle of Flight," 21 Apr. 2020 In a normal year, any curious person, from kindergartner to senior citizen, would have opportunities to get outside and contribute to research, harnessing the power of the crowd to generate useful data for science. James Dinneen/undark, Popular Science, "Science is finding ways to thrive during the pandemic, and you can help," 20 Apr. 2020 By harnessing the properties of quantum physics, quantum computers have the potential to sort through a vast number of possibilities nearly instantaneously and come up with a probable solution. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, "D-Wave Opens Quantum-Computing Resources to Coronavirus Research," 1 Apr. 2020 They were inspired by the Tunisian revolt, and harnessed the power of social media to muster tumultuous throngs, unleashing popular anger over the graft and brutality that shadowed his rule. Time, "Egypt's Former President Hosni Mubarak Dies at 91," 25 Feb. 2020 Learn about the latest evidence and practices for harnessing the power of sleep to enhance our daily brain health and performance. Margot Habiby, Dallas News, "Things to do in Richardson this month: Brazilian guitar, 'Barefoot in the Park,’ Black History Month, Renée Taylor and more," 10 Feb. 2020 Missing this opportunity to harness powerful tools to improve patient care and outcomes would be foolish. Olivier Drouin, STAT, "Health care needs AI. It also needs the human touch," 22 Jan. 2020 The Republican Party of Virginia sees an opportunity to harness the energy of outraged gun rights voters to seize back seats in the state legislature and help President Trump win the commonwealth in 2020. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Virginia Republicans see gun rights as path back to a red commonwealth," 7 Jan. 2020 By harnessing the power of competition— including a requirement that wind, solar, fuel cells, and other clean energy options compete against each other—renewable energy prices were driven down. The Economist, "How to rethink environmental policies from “no” to “go”," 12 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harness.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of harness


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for harness

Noun and Verb

Middle English herneis baggage, gear, from Anglo-French harneis, herneis, probably from Old Norse *hernest, from herr army + nest provisions

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Time Traveler for harness

Time Traveler

The first known use of harness was in the 14th century

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Statistics for harness

Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Harness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harness. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for harness


How to pronounce harness (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of harness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a set of straps that are placed on an animal (such as a horse) so that it can pull something heavy
: a set of straps that are used to connect a person to something (such as a parachute or a seat)



English Language Learners Definition of harness (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put a harness on (an animal)
: to attach (an animal) to something with a harness
: to use (something) for a particular purpose


har·​ness | \ ˈhär-nəs How to pronounce harness (audio) \

Kids Definition of harness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the straps and fastenings placed on an animal so it can be controlled or prepared to pull a load


harnessed; harnessing

Kids Definition of harness (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put straps and fastenings on I harnessed the horses.
2 : to put to work : utilize Wind can be harnessed to generate power.

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