verb har·ry \ ˈher-ē , ˈha-rē \
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

Definition of harry

harried; harrying
1 : to make a pillaging or destructive raid on : assault
2 : to force to move along by harassing
  • harrying the terrified horses down out of the mountains
  • —R. A. Sokolov
3 : to torment by or as if by constant attack

harry was our Word of the Day on 01/25/2016. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of harry from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Was there once a warlike man named Harry who is the source for the verb harry? One particularly belligerent Harry does come to mind: Shakespeare once described how "famine, sword, and fire" accompanied "the warlike Harry," England's King Henry the Fifth. But neither this king nor any of his namesakes are the source for the verb. Rather, harry (or a word resembling it) has been a part of English for as long as there has been anything that could be called English. It took the form hergian in Old English and harien in Middle English, passing through numerous variations before finally settling into its modern spelling. The word's Old English ancestors are related to Old High German words heriōn ("to lay waste") and heri ("army").

Origin and Etymology of harry

Middle English harien, from Old English hergian; akin to Old High German heriōn to lay waste, heri army, Greek koiranos ruler

Synonym Discussion of harry

worry, annoy, harass, harry, plague, pester, tease mean to disturb or irritate by persistent acts. worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation.
    • pursued a policy of worrying the enemy
annoy implies disturbing one's composure or peace of mind by intrusion, interference, or petty attacks.
    • you're doing that just to annoy me
harass implies petty persecutions or burdensome demands that exhaust one's nervous or mental power.
    • harassed on all sides by creditors
harry may imply heavy oppression or maltreatment.
    • the strikers had been harried by thugs
plague implies a painful and persistent affliction.
    • plagued all her life by poverty
pester stresses the repetition of petty attacks.
    • constantly pestered with trivial complaints
tease suggests an attempt to break down one's resistance or rouse to wrath.
    • children teased the dog

HARRY Defined for Kids


verb har·ry \ ˈher-ē \

Definition of harry for Students

harried; harrying
: harass The invaders harried the village's residents.

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one who attends or assists a leader

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