har·​ness | \ ˈhär-nəs How to pronounce harness (audio) \

Definition of harness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the equipment other than a yoke of a draft animal
b : gear, equipment especially : military equipment for a horse or man
2a : occupational surroundings or routine get back into harness after a vacation
b : close association ability to work in harness with others— R. P. Brooks
3a : something that resembles a harness (as in holding or fastening something) a parachute harness
b : prefabricated wiring with insulation and terminals (see terminal entry 2 sense 3) ready to be attached (as in an ignition or lighting system) a wiring harness
4 : a part of a loom which holds and controls the heddles


harnessed; harnessing; harnesses

Definition of harness (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to put a harness on harnessed the ox
b : to attach by means of a harness harness the horses to the wagon
2 : to tie together : yoke must harness his mechanical apparatus to his creative mind— Andrew Buchanan
3 : utilize harness the computer's potential

Synonyms for harness

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of harness in a Sentence

Noun The pilot strapped himself into his harness before takeoff. Verb The horses were harnessed to the wagon. Engineers are finding new ways to harness the sun's energy to heat homes. The company is harnessing technology to provide better service to its customers. They harnessed the power of the waterfall to create electricity. harness anger to fight injustice
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Baker Mayfield also wasn’t as accurate as last season, likely because of the harness, and wasn’t as mobile in some games because of heel and knee injuries. cleveland, 9 Jan. 2022 At approximately shortly before 8 p.m., the 5-year-old German Shepherd mix named Summer and its 54-year-old owner were approached by an unknown male suspect on Waller and Octavia streets when the suspect grabbed the dog’s harness. Ryce Stoughtenborough, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Jan. 2022 All 2021 Model 3 vehicles have a different harness design. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 31 Dec. 2021 Manzi, 55, becomes the oldest harness driver to lead North America in victories (727), even without a win on the last day. Los Angeles Times, 31 Dec. 2021 In response, Tesla will inspect and install a guide protector and a new cable harness for free. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 30 Dec. 2021 The sedans have a backward-facing camera built into the car’s trunk harness that helps drivers steer and avoid obstacles when going in reverse. Matt Grossman, WSJ, 30 Dec. 2021 Tesla discontinued the problematic trunk harness at the end of the 2020 model year. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 31 Dec. 2021 Once the harness was secured, firefighters on the trail lifted both the rescuer and the hiker to safety, Wunsch said. oregonlive, 29 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Looking to harness the popularity of Bollywood’s superhero craze and connect it to Hollywood, the launch is inspired by one of Lee’s first international superhero co-creations, Chakra The Invincible. Jamie Lang, Variety, 14 Dec. 2021 As technology continues to advance, and the number of accessible data increases, organizations that are able to harness and implement the tools to analyze it correctly will be the most successful financially. Kirsty Godfrey-billy, Forbes, 7 Dec. 2021 Ultron would grow to harness the power of all Infinity Stones and use them to wipe out all life in his universe. Chris Smith, BGR, 6 Oct. 2021 Without that, the wind can blow and the sun can shine, but the US won’t be able to harness them. Gregory Barber, Wired, 8 Dec. 2021 This wave of new activity in the Philippines is part of a broader regional expansion in geothermal power, with geologically active nations well placed to harness thermal energy’s potential. Johnny Wood, Forbes, 15 Nov. 2021 As the United States seeks to shore up its defenses against cyberattacks, the government is seeking to harness the skills of some of the country’s most promising young minds using a model that mirrors competitive video gaming, also known as esports. Washington Post, 15 Oct. 2021 The film follows a team traveling to Hollow Earth—the secret underground home of titans such as Godzilla and Kong—on behalf of a shady corporation seeking to harness its energy source. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 31 Mar. 2021 Learn more about how your organization can harness the power of data, ML, and the cloud. Forbes, 23 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harness.' 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 harness


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for harness


Middle English harneys, herneys "equipment of a man-at-arms, body armor, fittings for a draft animal, apparel, baggage," borrowed from Anglo-French herneis, harneis (also continental Old French), probably borrowed from Old Norse *hernest "provisions for an armed force," from herr "host, army" + nest "provisions," going back to Germanic *nesta- (whence also Old English nest "food, provisions," Old High German -nest, in weganest "provisions for a journey"), derivative, with the noun and adjective suffix -to-, from the base of *nesan- "to save, be saved, return safely" — more at harry, nostalgia

Note: The Norse word was presumably assimilated to the French nominal and adjectival suffix -eis (going back to Latin -ēnsis; compare -ese entry 1), so that the compound was resegmented as harn-eis.


Middle English harneysen, harneyschen, hernessen "to equip with arms or armor, place accoutrements on a horse or ox, dress," borrowed from Anglo-French harneiser, herneiser, hernescher "to make ready, equip" (continental Old French harneschier, herneschier), derivative of harneis "equipment of a man-at-arms, baggage" — more at harness entry 1

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Time Traveler for harness

Time Traveler

The first known use of harness was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near harness



harness bull

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Statistics for harness

Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Harness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harness. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for harness



English Language Learners Definition of harness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a set of straps that are placed on an animal (such as a horse) so that it can pull something heavy
: a set of straps that are used to connect a person to something (such as a parachute or a seat)



English Language Learners Definition of harness (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put a harness on (an animal)
: to attach (an animal) to something with a harness
: to use (something) for a particular purpose


har·​ness | \ ˈhär-nəs How to pronounce harness (audio) \

Kids Definition of harness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the straps and fastenings placed on an animal so it can be controlled or prepared to pull a load


harnessed; harnessing

Kids Definition of harness (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put straps and fastenings on I harnessed the horses.
2 : to put to work : utilize Wind can be harnessed to generate power.

More from Merriam-Webster on harness

Nglish: Translation of harness for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harness for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harness


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