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Harpy

[hahr-pee] /ˈhɑr pi/
noun, plural Harpies.
1.
Classical Mythology. a ravenous, filthy monster having a woman's head and a bird's body.
2.
(lowercase) a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; shrew.
3.
(lowercase) a greedy, predatory person.
Origin
< Latin Harpȳia, singular of Harpȳiae < Greek Hárpȳiai (plural), literally, snatchers, akin to harpázein to snatch away
Related forms
harpylike, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for harpies

harpy

/ˈhɑːpɪ/
noun (pl) -pies
1.
a cruel grasping woman
Word Origin
C16: from Latin Harpyia, from Greek Harpuiai the Harpies, literally: snatchers, from harpazein to seize

Harpy

/ˈhɑːpɪ/
noun (pl) -pies
1.
(Greek myth) a ravenous creature with a woman's head and trunk and a bird's wings and claws
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for harpies

harpy

n.

late 14c., from Old French harpie (14c.), from Greek Harpyia (plural), literally "snatchers," probably related to harpazein "to snatch" (see rapid). Metaphoric extension to "greedy person" is c.1400.

In Homer they are merely personified storm winds, who were believed to have carried off any person that had suddenly disappeared. In Hesiod they are fair-haired and winged maidens who surpass the winds in swiftness, and are called Aello and Ocypete; but in later writers they are represented as disgusting monsters, with heads like maidens, faces pale with hunger, and claws like those of birds. The harpies ministered to the gods as the executors of vengeance. ["American Cyclopædia," 1874]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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harpies in Culture

Harpies definition


Vicious winged beings in classical mythology, often depicted as birds with women's faces. In the story of Jason, they steal or spoil an old blind man's food, leaving a terrible odor behind them.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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