harp

1 of 2

noun

plural harps
1
: a plucked stringed instrument consisting of a resonator, an arched or angled neck that may be supported by a post, and strings of graded length that are strung between the soundboard and the neck
2
: something resembling a harp
3
harpist noun

Illustration of harp

Illustration of harp
  • harp 1

harp

2 of 2

verb

harped; harping; harps

intransitive verb

1
: to play on a harp
2
: to dwell on or recur to a subject tiresomely or monotonously
usually used with on

Examples of harp in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Jacob-Perkins cut razor-sharp lines with her cello over scrubby brushstrokes of strings, hard plucks of harp and tensely bowed xylophone bars. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2024 Younger will perform on Coltrane’s gold concert grand harp and be involved in the Year of Alice, a series of events and concerts raising engagement with her music and life running from 2024 -2025. Essence, 14 Dec. 2023 At the beginning, eruptive full-ensemble gestures give way to a gently purring harp figure and to snappy rhythms on agogô bells. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2024 The radiant for the Lyrids—or the point from where the meteors appear to come—is the constellation Lyra, the harp. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Jan. 2024 Her girls learn with her in the morning and then take enrichment classes at Springfield, dabbling in everything from harp to Irish dance. Sharon Lurye, Fortune, 27 Nov. 2023 After de Maistre gave a performance of Alberto Ginastera’s Harp Concerto, a work of dreaminess and rhythmic alacrity, in the early two-thousands, Ginastera’s widow suggested that de Maistre transcribe the Argentine composer’s songs for the harp. The New Yorker, 8 Dec. 2023 Scorsese said Robertson introduced him to obscure blues, gospel and sacred harp, and Scorsese showed Robertson films by Samuel Fuller, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Luchino Visconti. Pamela Chelin, Variety, 16 Nov. 2023 Also, San Diego Symphony musicians, conducted in the pit by James Lowe, supplement the score with harp, trumpets, strings and much more. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Dec. 2023
Verb
As for any naysayers and critics still harping about manhole covers and temporary traffic disruptions, Formula 1 should just take a page from the Swiftie playbook and shake it off. Viju Mathew, Robb Report, 19 Nov. 2023 DeSantis has slipped to third place in some individual polls, a development that Trump and his allies have harped upon. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 21 Aug. 2023 Rivera first speaks to Kahlo across a magically spooky texture of xylophone, marimba, celesta, and harp—the River Styx as painted by Monet. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 3 July 2023 That's an easy statistic to harp on, since everybody loves bashing Congress. Corey S Powell, Discover Magazine, 20 Feb. 2013 Conservatives harp about bad governance. Mene Ukueberuwa, WSJ, 3 Mar. 2023 For over two decades, she’s become synonymous with how society frames a flawless Black woman, providing a dream for other Black women to harp on and live vicariously through. Deasia Paige, ELLE, 2 Aug. 2022 Also: If the purpose was to draw a contrast between Democrats and Republicans, why harp on a topic so anodyne? Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 9 Feb. 2023 Only by the fans who want to harp on Doncic’s 82nd-game, late-third-quarter injury. Dallas News, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'harp.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English harpe, going back to Old English hearpe (feminine weak noun), going back to Germanic *harpōn- (whence also Old Saxon harpa "harp, rack, gridiron for torture" Old High German harpha, harfa "harp, gridiron for torture," Old Norse harpa "harp"), of uncertain origin

Note: As a source for Middle English harpe compare also Anglo-French and continental Old French harpe, borrowed from Germanic. The sixth-century poet and hymnodist Venantius Fortunatus, resident at the Merovingian court, attests the word in Latin: "Romanusque lyra plaudat tibi, barbarus harpa …" ("Let the Roman applaud you with the lyre, the barbarian with the harp …").

Verb

Middle English harpen "to play a harp, pluck" (also harpen on "repeat [something] constantly"), going back to Old English hearpian "to play the harp," derivative of hearpe harp entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of harp was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near harp

Cite this Entry

“Harp.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harp. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

harp

1 of 2 noun
: a musical instrument that has strings stretched across a large open triangular frame and that is plucked with the fingers
harpist noun

harp

2 of 2 verb
1
: to play on a harp
2
: to dwell on a subject tiresomely
always harping on his shortcomings
harper noun

More from Merriam-Webster on harp

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