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 Belts with a six-point restraint overlap the HANS shoulder harness, securing it in place. USA Today, "Moment by moment: Ryan Newman's crash in final lap of Daytona 500," 20 Feb. 2020 The problem could occur if the wire harness for the power outlet in the third row becomes pinched, damaging the wires, which can lead to an electrical short and potentially a fire. Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "Honda Recalls Nearly 250,000 Odyssey Minivans for Fire Hazard," 12 Feb. 2020 If the pinching damage exposes the wiring to the unibody, an electrical short can occur and cause the wire harness to overheat, which may cause a fire, the NHTSA said. Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News, "Honda recalls 241,000 minivans over wiring issue that could cause fire," 12 Feb. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Researchers harnessed the Frontera supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Fox News, "Coronavirus droplets could travel 27 feet, warns MIT researcher," 1 Apr. 2020 Trump harnessed some of this populist energy to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 over strenuous objections from the party’s governing class. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Conservatives fear 'temporary relief' spending will lock in new government programs forever," 25 Mar. 2020 In South Korea, police investigators and financial authorities are harnessing surveillance-camera footage and location data from smartphones and car navigators. New York Times, "Grim News Blunts Federal Reserve’s Crisis Response," 23 Mar. 2020 The system will harness 16 supercomputing systems from IBM, national laboratories, several universities, Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT) and others. Clare Duffy, CNN, "IBM partners with White House to direct supercomputing power for coronavirus research," 22 Mar. 2020 But more recently, it’s been harnessed to fight infectious diseases, including, now, the new coronavirus. Steven Levy, Wired, "Could Crispr Be Humanity's Next Virus Killer?," 18 Mar. 2020 Opdivo harnesses the body's own immune system to help fight cancer. Rachel Reiff Ellis, Woman's Day, "How a Lung Cancer Diagnosis Gave One Woman a New Lease on Life," 17 Mar. 2020 This man could just be harnessing Sydney's powers for his own nefarious deeds. Martha Sorren, refinery29.com, "Let’s Talk About The Mystery Man On I Am Not Okay With This," 2 Mar. 2020 Bee Epstein-Shepherd, Carmel Valley Ranch's resident hypnotherapist, harnesses her skills to help guests improve sleep quality. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Biggest Wellness Travel Trends: Sound Baths, Tickling Helmets, and More," 14 Feb. 2020

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

3 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Harness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harness. Accessed 9 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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