har·​ry | \ ˈher-ē How to pronounce harry (audio) , ˈha-rē \
harried; harrying

Definition of harry

transitive verb

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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").

Examples of harry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Indiana pounded the paint early, bossed Michigan State on the boards and harried every screen. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "IU basketball plays big, holds off Michigan State," 24 Jan. 2020 Rebel groups had continued to harry government forces, however, from outside the city with mortar rounds. Sarah El Deeb, BostonGlobe.com, "Assad’s forces make advances, further securing Aleppo region," 16 Feb. 2020 Before that pass, the 49ers harried Mahomes as few teams have. Kevin Draper, New York Times, "Third-and-Long, Then the Pass That Saved the Chiefs," 2 Feb. 2020 Each Villa player never gave their opponents a seconds rest, constantly harrying and chasing down. SI.com, "Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Reds Seal Win With Dramatic Late Double," 2 Nov. 2019 During the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, when sacred sites were razed by Maoist zealots and countless priests and monks were harried to death, the temple became a primary school. The Economist, "China’s atheist Communist Party encourages folk religion," 19 Sep. 2019 The second-movement Larghetto was appropriately restrained, but the finale was harried, even frantic. Exposed high writing for violins in the outer movements wasn’t always tidy. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Guest conductor Jader Bignamini pumps up the Dallas Symphony with lots of decibels," 17 Jan. 2020 His voice was deep if slightly harried, and his face impassive. The Economist, "Inside Aspen: the mountain retreat for the liberal elite," 11 Oct. 2019 Salzburg deserve immense praise for their efforts in the match, harrying the home side without fear, but one player who did stand tall for Liverpool throughout the 90 minutes was Roberto Firmino. SI.com, "Liverpool 4-3 Red Bull Salzburg: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Reds Survive Stirring Comeback," 2 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of harry

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

History and Etymology for harry

Middle English hærȝen, herien, harien, herwen, harwen "to plunder, ravage, torment, pursue, drag," going back to Old English hergian, herian, heregian, hergon "to make predatory raids, ravage, wage war," going back to Germanic *harjōjan- (whence also Old Saxon herion "to plunder," Middle Dutch heren, hergen "to destroy with an army, ravage," Old High German heriōn, herrōn "to devastate, plunder," Old Norse herja "to despoil, lay waste"), verbal derivative of *harja- "body of armed men" (whence Old English here "body of armed men, army," Old Frisian here [in compounds], Old Saxon heri "army, crowd," Old High German heri, hari, Old Norse herr "host, army," Gothic harjis), going back to Indo-European *kori̯o- (whence also Middle Irish cuire "troop, host, company," Middle Welsh cord, cordd "tribe, clan, multitude, troop," Lithuanian kãrias "war, army"), derivative of appurtenance from *kor- "war," whence Lithuanian kãras "war," Old Persian kāra- "army, people" (with lengthened grade?); also, with suffix -no-, Greek koíranos "commander, ruler"

Note: Old English forms such as her(e)gian, 3rd singular present hergaþ, show variants with reversion of palatal g (= [j]) to velar g (= [ɣ]) before a back vowel, though in this case there was no original g, and the reversion is analogical. The two competing sets of forms were passed on to Middle English. The variants with either -i- or -w- gave rise to two more or less distinct words in modern English, harry and harrow entry 1. For other words containing Old English here "body of armed men" or Germanic *harja- see arrière-ban, harbinger entry 1, harbor entry 1, harness entry 1, herald entry 1, heriot.

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Time Traveler for harry

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

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Cite this Entry

“Harry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harry. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for harry


har·​ry | \ ˈher-ē How to pronounce harry (audio) \
harried; harrying

Kids Definition of harry

: harass The invaders harried the village's residents.

More from Merriam-Webster on harry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for harry

Nglish: Translation of harry for Spanish Speakers

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