\ ˈhärp How to pronounce harp (audio) \

Definition of harp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 perpendicular to the soundboard
2 : something resembling a harp


harped; harping; harps

Definition of harp (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

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

Illustration of harp

Illustration of harp


harp 1

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from harp


harpist \ ˈhär-​pist How to pronounce harp (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for harp

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of harp in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Filling up the majority of the 35-minute program, Britten’s piece is scored for three-part treble choir and harp, which was played by Laura Logan Brandenburg. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 23 Dec. 2020 For this program highlighting French impressionists, the students were treated to a trio including Jane Berkner on flute, Amber Rogers playing viola and Jody Guinn, on harp. Sam Boyer, cleveland, 29 Apr. 2022 New to this stage is Lissette Ryan, who blends her tales with tunes on her harp. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 June 2022 The score begins with bright but elusive plucked sounds of harp and strings, as though the musician’s hands were delightedly glancing pliant pudica foliage. Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 The same wood was indeed used to make the Stradivari harp and the Amati cello, Dr. Bernabei and his colleagues suggest. Katherine Kornei, New York Times, 8 June 2022 Any group comprised of flute, viola and harp has to champion new music. San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Jan. 2022 The harp represents harmony and creativity, the opposite of a weapon, which is used for bloodshed or violence. Beth Bernstein, Forbes, 8 June 2022 Under Kuan’s baton, the harp accents the violins, the brass caps the cello and bass bits and everything rubs up against each other just right. Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant, 7 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Not to harp on Denmark, but SciAm just reported on crowd behavior in that country during the pandemic. Josh Fischman, Scientific American, 2 Aug. 2022 As for the remaining risks and naysayers and resisters, there’s not a lot left to harp about, adds Shear. Peter Lane Taylor, Forbes, 7 May 2022 There was something to harp on, 21 turnovers, but Georgetown only scored 12 points off them. Dom Amore, courant.com, 21 Feb. 2022 As the preteen Mary transitioned from piano rehearsals to harp recitals, her mother recognized that her daughter wasn’t motivated by such strictures. New York Times, 26 Oct. 2021 Unfortunately, most people tend to harp on the random or isolated bad forecast that impacted their cookout and then make sweeping (inaccurate) assessments. Marshall Shepherd, Forbes, 24 Oct. 2021 When coaches harp on execution, that seems to be a big factor. David Furones, sun-sentinel.com, 5 Oct. 2021 Republicans harp on monthly data reports, convinced that attacking the Biden White House on rapid price gains is a winning political strategy. New York Times, 27 Aug. 2021 There weren’t any real negatives for Kingsbury to harp on amongst the starters who did play early, except for the two false starts by center Rodney Hudson and left tackle D.J. Humphries during Arizona’s second series of the game. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 13 Aug. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harp.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of harp


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


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

History and Etymology for harp


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 …").


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

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

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Harp.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harp. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for harp


\ ˈhärp How to pronounce harp (audio) \

Kids Definition of harp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a musical instrument consisting of a triangular frame set with strings that are plucked by the fingers


harped; harping

Kids Definition of harp (Entry 2 of 2)

: to call attention to something over and over again The teacher harped on her mistake.

More from Merriam-Webster on harp

Nglish: Translation of harp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harp for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harp


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