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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tyre, who was 6-feet 2-inches tall and weighed about 380 pounds before his death, slipped through the gap between the harness and the seat, according to a state report. NBC News, 26 Apr. 2022 The safety harness and seat of the 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from an amusement park ride in Florida last week were still locked at the end of the ride, according to the accident report. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2022 The whale, found wearing a GoPro camera harness, was nicknamed Hvaldimir. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 2 May 2022 The unidentified 32-year-old woman climbed to the top of the fence and tried to descend using a harness, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office. Jane Florance, The Arizona Republic, 13 Apr. 2022 The plan was to put a harness around the woman, who was not identified, and lower her to the basement. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 30 Mar. 2022 The outlet also reported that Stine said the boy was wearing a safety harness at the time of the incident. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, 25 Mar. 2022 Mayfield sat out the next game, and played the remainder of the season wearing a large harness on his left shoulder. Jim Ingraham, Forbes, 20 Jan. 2022 Flying along the southeastern coastline of Kodiak Island, Matthew Van Daele — wearing a safety harness tethered to the inside a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk — leaned out the helicopter door, scanning the beaches below for dead whales and seals. Susanne Rust, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The company recently expanded its creator offerings with the release of CoSo By Splice, an intelligent musical sketch pad designed for music makers to harness sound discovery. Thania Garcia, Variety, 24 May 2022 Now Hernandez hopes to harness that enthusiasm in a community science project with an ambitious aim: Find every saguaro in metro Phoenix. Lane Sainty, The Arizona Republic, 21 May 2022 To make that happen, marketers need to understand the differences between branding and product marketing—and how to harness them for growth. Jessica Wong, Forbes, 19 May 2022 The episode shows how little has changed in the three years since a live-streamed rampage at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, revealed how mass shooters could harness leading social platforms to make their carnage go viral. Will Oremus, Washington Post, 16 May 2022 Efron portrays a desperate father trying to to hide his daughter's powers from a government agency that wants to harness it as a weapon for mass destruction. Jessica Wang, EW.com, 15 May 2022 Efron plays Charlie’s father, who must protect his daughter (Armstrong) from those who want to harness Charlie’s powers for evil purposes. Michael O'sullivan, Anchorage Daily News, 6 May 2022 That reflects Bello’s growing understanding of his abilities and how to harness them, and suggests a pitcher who may soon force his way to Triple A, with a potentially exciting big league future. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 12 May 2022 Efron plays Charlie’s father, who must protect his daughter (Armstrong) from those who want to harness Charlie’s powers for evil purposes. Michael O'sullivan, Anchorage Daily News, 6 May 2022 See More

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.

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


Middle English harneys, herneys "equipment of a man-at-arms, body armor, fittings for a draft animal, apparel, baggage," borrowed from Anglo-French herneis, harneis (also continental Old French), probably borrowed from Old Norse *hernest "provisions for an armed force," from herr "host, army" + nest "provisions," going back to Germanic *nesta- (whence also Old English nest "food, provisions," Old High German -nest, in weganest "provisions for a journey"), derivative, with the noun and adjective suffix -to-, from the base of *nesan- "to save, be saved, return safely" — more at harry, nostalgia

Note: The Norse word was presumably assimilated to the French nominal and adjectival suffix -eis (going back to Latin -ēnsis; compare -ese entry 1), so that the compound was resegmented as harn-eis.


Middle English harneysen, harneyschen, hernessen "to equip with arms or armor, place accoutrements on a horse or ox, dress," borrowed from Anglo-French harneiser, herneiser, hernescher "to make ready, equip" (continental Old French harneschier, herneschier), derivative of harneis "equipment of a man-at-arms, baggage" — more at harness entry 1

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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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Dictionary Entries Near harness



harness bull

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Statistics for harness

Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Harness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harness. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for harness


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on harness

Nglish: Translation of harness for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harness for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harness


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