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 Daredevil Nik Wallenda wowed Chicago and the world with two hair-raising skyscraper crossings on high wires without a safety net or a harness. BostonGlobe.com, "Today is Saturday, Nov. 2, the 306th day of 2019. There are 59 days left in the year.," 2 Nov. 2019 Under current airline regulations, all of the seats would require a special harness for passenger safety. Molly Quell, Ars Technica, "The Flying V would be unlike any other passenger airliner, even in 2040," 22 Oct. 2019 Acting aside, Sammi has climbed a rock wall with a special harness and surfed in Port Aransas with the help of a physical therapist from Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletonUSA. René A. Guzman, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio girl stars in new Netflix series, ‘Raising Dion’," 3 Oct. 2019 It was parked in a position with its boom, fitted with a steel-cable harness, angling over S.R. 408 spans and a badly damaged personnel hoist. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "One dead, one injured from falling beam during I-4 construction in Orlando, authorities say," 29 Sep. 2019 Allow the other cats, especially the more passive ones, to claim their favorite spots, then bring in Tiger inside a carrier or on a harness. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Can Clayton’s ‘Tiger Woods’ learn to get along with his cat-mates?," 16 Sep. 2019 After missing most of training camp recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Flowers, who plays with a harness on his left arm, is off to a slow start in Detroit. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Inside Detroit Lions football: Find out what is wrong with the defensive line," 15 Sep. 2019 If the car seat with a harness still fits, and your child is within the weight and height limits, continue to use it until it is outgrown. Maggie Rauser, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Safe Kids Carroll: Celebration of child passenger safety week meant as reminder to parents," 5 Sep. 2019 Participants may try to make Curry’s buzzer-beating shots, run 40 feet and be lifted by a harness to dunk and celebrate in the locker room with parkas and sparkling water. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Sweet deal: Warriors join forces with Candytopia to create Hooptopia," 22 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There are other efforts to harness the power of AI to combat wildfires. Peter Holley, The Denver Post, "California has 33 million acres of forest. This company is training artificial intelligence to scour it all for wildfire," 10 Nov. 2019 There’s also an effort to harness existing markets that trade pollution permits to provide a similar mechanism. Jeremy Hodges | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "How to Be ‘Carbon Neutral’ If You’re Not Bhutan," 6 Nov. 2019 This includes several efforts to harness one of Hawaii’s most abundant resources: the ocean. Noelle Swan, Scientific American, "Hawaii Wants to Lead the Renewable Revolution," 21 Sep. 2019 If Beede can harness his control, the sky is the limit. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "San Francisco Giants: 25 big questions for 25 players at the All-Star break," 10 July 2019 This trajectory for the Reaper is evolving alongside a separate effort to harness increasingly smaller, lighter-weight sensors, transmitters and receivers. Fox News, "Air Force expands mission for Reaper attack drones, adds new weapons," 28 June 2018 In the all-hands effort to harness the powers of the immune system to fight cancer, scientists have reported a new approach that eliminated all evidence of advanced-stage breast cancer in a 49-year-old woman who had run out of treatment options. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "'I have definitely hit the jackpot.' Advanced breast cancer disappears after new immunotherapy," 4 June 2018 The gadgets, called LoaScopes, are part of a broader effort to harness technology and innovation in the U.S., including California's Silicon Valley, to fight age-old diseases in the developing world. Brian Rinker, CNN, "New tech revolutionizes fight against ancient diseases in Africa, Asia," 17 Apr. 2018 This is perhaps why a crop of new apps have arrived, harnessing the powers of artificial intelligence, to offer relationship advice. Wired, "Flirty or Friendzone? New AI Scans Your Texts for True Love," 16 Sep. 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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Statistics for harness

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for harness

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

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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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Comments on harness

What made you want to look up harness? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speed up the process or progress of

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