verb (1)
har·​row | \ ˈher-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce harrow (audio) , ˈha-(ˌ)rō \
harrowed; harrowing; harrows

Definition of harrow

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

: pillage, plunder long harrowed by oppressor's hand— Sir Walter Scott



Definition of harrow (Entry 2 of 4)

: a cultivating tool set with spikes, teeth, or disks and used primarily for breaking up and smoothing the soil


verb (2)
harrowed; harrowing; harrows

Definition of harrow (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to cultivate with a harrow (see harrow entry 2) harrow the fields
2 : torment, vex harrowed by war has not set out to appall the reader with horrors nor to harrow him with miseries— Douglas Stewart


geographical name
Har·​row | \ ˈha-(ˌ)rō How to pronounce Harrow (audio) \

Definition of Harrow (Entry 4 of 4)

borough of northwestern Greater London, England population 241,000

Other Words from harrow

Verb (2)

harrower \ ˈher-​ə-​wər How to pronounce Harrow (audio) , ˈha-​rə-​ \ noun

First Known Use of harrow

Verb (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for harrow

Verb (1)

Middle English herwen, harwen — more at harry

Note: See note at harry.


Middle English harewe, harwe, harow, of uncertain origin

Note: The Oxford English Dictionary, first edition, suggests inheritance from an unattested Old English *hearwe or *hearge, though the Middle English word is perhaps more likely a loan from Old Norse, despite the phonetic objections—compare Norwegian harv, horv "harrow," Swedish harv, Danish harve, Old Icelandic herfi. The further origin of the Scandinavian word is unclear. G. Kroonen, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Brill, 2013) suggests as an etymon *harbō, akin to *harbjan- "to pluck" (whence, allegedly, Norwegian dialect herva "to snatch"), akin to Germanic *harbista- "autumn" and Latin carpere "to pluck, pick, gather" (see harvest entry 1). A harrow, however, is not a tool for plucking or gathering.

Verb (2)

Middle English harwen, harowen, derivative of harwe, harow harrow entry 2

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Time Traveler for harrow

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Harrow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harrow. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for harrow


har·​row | \ ˈher-ō How to pronounce harrow (audio) \

Kids Definition of harrow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece of farm equipment that has metal teeth or disks for breaking up and smoothing soil


harrowed; harrowing

Kids Definition of harrow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to drag a harrow over (plowed ground)
2 : distress entry 2 … the rest that lay helpless in their bunks harrowed me with screaming …— Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped

More from Merriam-Webster on harrow

Nglish: Translation of harrow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harrow for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harrow


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