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 Adjusted correctly, the three-point harness snugs the holster tight against the body, preventing it from moving around. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "The Survival Gear You Want When Things Go Wrong in the Backcountry," 20 Feb. 2020 Blending country and hip-hop, while wearing a studded western look in Day-Glo fuchsia, complete with a harness (by Atelier Versace, no less), Lil Nas X has just dropped the mic. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Top 12 Fashion Looks That Rocked the Grammys Red Carpet," 26 Jan. 2020 Watt played Saturday with a shoulder harness that protected his arm from being bent all the way back. Eric Branch, SFChronicle.com, "There’s risk in 49ers’ Kwon Alexander returning too quickly," 6 Jan. 2020 Kate, then 4, was riding in a child seat with a five-point harness. Washington Post, "Seat belt extenders appeal to parents with kids in booster seats. But a mother’s lawsuit alleges using one left her son with permanent brain injuries," 28 Dec. 2019 Some garb seemed conjured out of dreams — or nightmares, such as the demonic inflatable black lobster that a man pulled with a harness. Jeremy C. Fox, BostonGlobe.com, "Caribbean parade turns Roxbury and Dorchester into a rainbow of cultures," 24 Aug. 2019 The latest is Hyundai, which decided on Tuesday to shut down its three South Korea plants due to shortages of a wiring harness that was no longer available from a supplier in China, according to Korean broadcaster Arirang. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Coronavirus Forces Hyundai, Others to Shut Down Korea and China Factories," 4 Feb. 2020 Another guy who’s good to have around in a pinch: Alex Honnold, the human spider who in 2017 climbed El Capitan in four hours without ropes or harnesses. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors light on wins but heavy on drama," 30 Nov. 2019 The steel panels of the harness Andrews wore to film flying scenes for Mary Poppins left her hips badly bruised, and in one scene, the wires suspending her failed, leading to a catastrophic fall. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Charming Candor of Julie Andrews’s New Memoir," 16 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Experts describe their discovery in a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A. Other theories by Clerk Maxwell have also been harnessed by modern scientists. Fox News, "Scientists make new discovery using 19th-century physicist’s theories," 4 Sep. 2019 Thin Mints are pretty much the perfect cookie, and that perfection can be harnessed to improve other classic desserts. Paul Stephen, ExpressNews.com, "How to transform Girl Scout Cookies — Samoas, Thin Mints, Lemonades, Trefoil — into desserts and beef sauce," 19 Feb. 2020 His skill was harnessed through consistent output and thousands of hours toiling away at his beloved craft. Josh Linkner, Detroit Free Press, "Be persistent like Picasso and you'll master your craft, too," 8 Feb. 2020 With a lot of additional tinkering, xenobot technology could also someday be harnessed to deliver drugs, collect environmental contaminants, and more, Levin and his colleagues write today in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Assemble Frog Stem Cells Into First ‘Living Machines’," 13 Jan. 2020 And how can that power be harnessed to unify and create a strong foundation for respect across difference? Elizabeth Silkes, Time, "Cultural Heritage Reminds Us of Our Shared Humanity. That's Why Threats Against Them Are So Dangerous," 10 Jan. 2020 Cas9, which microbes use to fend off viruses and other invaders, could be harnessed to rewrite human genes. Heidi Ledford, Scientific American, "Quest to Use CRISPR Against Disease Gains Ground," 7 Jan. 2020 But they could not be harnessed as a purely Kurdish force, plowing into Sunni Arab areas held by ISIS. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Putin's dreams have just come true," 23 Oct. 2019 Some have been harnessed for begging, street peddling, or door-to-door sales. Joan Hunt, courant.com, "Vintage Fashion Show Raises Awareness Of Human Trafficking," 11 Oct. 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

20 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Harness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harness. Accessed 1 Apr. 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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